Atletico Madrid come into Sunday’s Madrid derby ready to do battle according to a report in Marca. Much rides on their performance. If they can win, they increase the gap to city rivals Real Madrid to eight points in La Liga with the ability to make it eleven when they play their game in hand against Athletic Bilbao midweek. Three points would also go some way to healing historical wounds they bear because of Los Blancos.
Diego Simeone has suffered some tough nights against Madrid, not least the Champions League final defeats of 2014 and 2016. He has also, however, defeated Madrid in the 2013 Copa del Rey, the 2014 Supercopa de Espana and the 2018 European Super Cup. If Simeone can win on Sunday it will be his first derby victory at the new Wanda Metropolitano.
That’s not the only grounds for motivation from within the Atletico squad, far from it. Marcos Llorente and Mario Hermoso both came from Madrid’s academy system, but left after failing to establish themselves in the first team. Joao Felix is yet to beat Madrid as an Atletico player, while Koke, the captain, is the only man in the squad who featured in both of the heartbreaking Champions League final defeats. One thing Los Rojiblancos won’t be short ahead of Sunday’s clash will be motivation.
Atletico are the better team this season, but it will be up to them to win or lose. Earlier is the season, Atleti didn’t show up and paid the price. This game has very high rewards for the winner. That reward will be the title as La Liga champions.