Real Madrid head coach Carlo Ancelotti will make four lineup changes to his team that beat Getafe on Thursday when facing crosstown rivals Atletico Madrid in the derby at the Bernabeu.
The late Sunday night partidazo in Spain could have serious ramifications on the title race, with previous surprise leaders Girona having dropped points against Real Sociedad on Matchday 23.
With a win this evening, Ancelotti’s men can pull four points ahead of the Catalans prior to their meeting on February 10 where a repeat of the victory earned on September 30 at the Montilivi Stadium could put one hand on the La Liga title crown for Los Blancos.
That being said, Ancelotti refused to accept this is a “decisive” week in 2023/2024 despite the two mammoth domestic fixtures that will be played over the next six days.
“It is an important week, but not decisive,” the Italian said at his pre-match press conference.
“They are important league games before resuming the Champions League. We have to take advantage of the fact that we play two matches in a row at home to score points.”
For the first of the fixtures, Ancelotti again opts for Andriy Lunin in goal supported by a back line of Ferland Mendy, Nacho and Dani Carvajal at center back with Lucas Vazquez kept in the fold.
In midfield, there are two key changes with Eduardo Camavinga and Toni Kroos coming in for Aurelien Tchouameni and Luka Modric. Jude Bellingham and Fede Valverde complete the midfield quartet.
Up top, there is no second consecutive start for Joselu even in light of his brace against Getafe that sealed the points midweek.
The Espanyol loanee loses his spot to Rodrygo, as the Santos academy graduate forms an all-Brazilian strike duo with Vinicius Jr.
Fans of both teams and neutrals alike will hope for a spectacle on par with the two extra time showdowns we were treated to in January.
Madrid won the first encounter 5-3 in the Spanish Super Cup last four to then go on and lift the trophy at FC Barcelona’s expense in Riyadh.
Then in the Copa del Rey quarterfinals, Atleti came out on top at the Metropolitano with a 4-2 triumph to notch their second home win over their arch rivals this season.
The Rojiblancos trounced Ancelotti’s side 3-1 on September 24, but that setback proved to be the slap in the face that Madrid needed to kickstart a season which at present looks likely to see them finish La Liga kings.
Real Madrid First XI Vs. Atletico Madrid: Lunin; Mendy, Nacho, Carvajal, Vazquez; Camavinga, Kroos, Valverde, Bellingham; Vinicius, Rodrygo