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Friday February 1 2019
Atletico favourites for key Madrid derby

Saturday's Madrid derby is likely to be a typically fiesty affair but it is Atletico who enter the game as favourites, writes Rajan Hothi.

Atletico Madrid host city rivals Real Madrid in what is sure to be an entertaining Madrid derby. The visitors are keen to leapfrog second-placed Atletico, who are six points off league leaders Barcelona. This will be a crucial match in the race for the top spots in Spain this season, and is sure to be the centre of attention for football betting this weekend.

The hosts have suffered just two defeats in the league all season - although one of these was their last game, at Real Betis - and boast the best home record in La Liga, winning nine and drawing two of their 11 league games at the Wanda Metropolitano. However, despite losing the lowest amount of games in the division they have drawn eight of their 22 games – largely explaining their points deficit to Barca.

Madrid, now coached by Santiago Solari, have lost four of their 11 away games this season and their slip-ups on the road mean they sit third in La Liga and eight points off the title pace. The European champions will be keen to get one over their city rivals after being held to a frustrating 0-0 draw at home to Atletico earlier in the season.

Key Battles

Antoine Griezmann vs Sergio Ramos

If Los Blancos are to get anything out of the encounter, they will need to keep Griezmann quiet. The Frenchman has notched ten goals so far this campaign and he will be keen on adding to that tally against Real. Sergio Ramos will be dealt with the task of making sure Griezmann has a low-key afternoon, but Ramos must make sure he doesn't lose his head with silly fouls or decisions otherwise Griezmann will exploit this. The pair have previously had public spats, although there does not appear to be genuine animosity.

Rodrigo Hernandez vs Luka Modric

The midfield battle will be key in this derby clash and Rodri will need to go toe to toe with Modric. Everyone knows what the Croatian - the current holder of the Ballon d'Or award - is capable of and for Atletico to emerge victors in the encounter, Rodri will need to find a way to get the better of Modric who is able to change a game for his side. If Modric is allowed to control the midfield, it could be a very long 90 minutes for the hosts.

Prediction

Los Blancos have showcased how they are susceptible to the odd away slip-up and against the team with the best home record in La Liga, it could potentially be a miserable day for Madrid.

Griezmann and company will be keen to inflict damage on Solari’s men to see them bridge an eight-point gap between themselves and their city rivals.

While you can never write off Real, if Atletico can keep the visitors' main threats quiet, it should be another home win for Diego Simeone's side.

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