Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large
Atletico Madrid are riding high in the Primera Liga, sitting in second place. Andres Kudacki / AP Photo
Atletico Madrid are riding high in the Primera Liga, sitting in second place. Andres Kudacki / AP Photo

Atletico in the ascendancy ahead of Madrid derby

For once, Real head into the Madrid derby without the tag of favourites, says Andy Mitten.

Spain's biggest game of the season so far takes place this Saturday and, for once, it is not el clasico.

The Madrid derby between Atletico and Real is the most intriguing for years. Normally, the grander, more successful club from the wealthier northern side of Spain's capital beats the smaller but still huge club from the south side.

Indeed, Atletico have a dire recent record in derby matches and have not won at the Bernabeu for 13 years, betrayed by a habit of falling apart and behaving like they are awestruck.

Madrid show no mercy to their neighbours - and not only Atletico. They have won every single derby, 16 in total, against Atletico and fellow Madrid sides Getafe and Rayo Vallecano since 2008, until, tellingly, this season, when Getafe won 2-1.

Atletico normally go into the games well behind Madrid in the league. Not now. Diego Simeone's side are eight points clear of Jose Mourinho's charges after 13 Primera Liga games.

They have not finished above Madrid since 1996 when they won the league, that underdog status intensifying their fans' loathing towards the Whites.

Madrid have already lost five games this season, more in three months than in the whole of last term.

Mourinho appears to be against the world, while Cristiano Ronaldo, he of a goal-a-game fame since moving to Iberia in 2009, has scored just once in the last six matches.

Not just Barcelona and Lionel Messi are pulling away in the Primera Liga and Pichichi chart, Atletico are doing it in the league. But can they widen the gap by beating Madrid?

Their top-scorer Radamel Falcao says they are not going for a draw - as you would expect.

He has played in the far more challenging environment of derby matches in Buenos Aires in Argentina and so has the other man responsible for the Atletico revolution, their Argentine coach Simeone.

Simeone has instilled a toughness in his side which has seen them win the Europa League and European Super Cup in style in 2012, as well as 11 of their opening 13 league games, with only a single defeat.

Atletico need to be tough - they face Madrid and Barcelona away in two of their next three fixtures.

The neutrals who despise the two team dominance in Spain are hoping they can hold out.



twitter Follow us @SprtNationalUAE and Andy Mitten @andymitten

Back to the top

More articles

Editor's Picks

 Yuvraj Singh, left, and Virat Kohli of Royal Challengers Bangalore celebrating after they won their IPL match against Delhi Daredevils at Sharjah Cricket Stadium in Sharjah. Pawan Singh / The National

In pictures: IPL 7 action at Sharjah Cricket Stadium

Royal Challengers Bangalore’s power-hitters laid down a marker at the first opportunity in IPL 2014 as they cruised past a hapless Delhi Daredevils with eight wickets, 20 deliveries, and about three more gears to spare in front of a packed house at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium on Thursday, April 17, 2014.

 Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho looks on during the Premier League match between Swansea City and Chelsea at the Liberty Stadium on April 13, 2014 in Swansea, Wales. Chris Brunskill/Getty Images

‘That’s why we are a top club’ says Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech

Jose Mourinho’s men will temporarily claim the Premier League top spot if they beat Sunderland, leaving them in control of their own destiny in the title race ahead of a crucial trip to face Liverpool at Anfield on April 27.

 Chris Burch will play fly-half as part of a new-look back line for the UAE national rugby union team that will face Singapore at The Sevens grounds in Dubai. Sarah Dea / The National

Chris Burch to lead UAE’s charge against Singapore

he UAE’s bid to safeguard their place in the second tier of Asian rugby against Singapore next week will be piloted by a player who was contemplating retirement from the sport at this time last year.

 Opening performance during Day 3 of the World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship at the First Gulf Bank Arena at Zayed Sport City in Abu Dhabi. Mona Al-Marzooqi/ The National

In pictures: Day 3 of the Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship

All the action from Day 3 of the World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship at the First Gulf Bank Arena at Zayed Sport City in Abu Dhabi.

 Atletico Madrid's Cristian Rodriguez, second left, celebrates his goal with team mates, and coach Diego Simeone, third right. Atletico are on the cusp of a Primer Liga title. AP Photo/Andres Kudacki

Atletico Madrid look to edge towards Primera Liga title before Chelsea visit

Diego Simeone's men need to win just four of their five remaining games to seal the Primera Liga championship and they take on Elche before the first leg of their Uefa Champions League semi-final against Chelsea on Tuesday.

 Jorginho accepts the challenge that lies ahead for Al Wasl's improvement, and the club says it will give him time ... if they see results.  Jeffrey E Biteng / The National

Wasl will give Jorginho time but results in Arabian Gulf League are needed

Al Wasl officials said they will provide Jorginho, their new coach, sufficient time to change the club’s fortunes while also warning that his fate ultimately will depend on results.


To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National