x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Atletico are feeling the heat

After Barcelona, comes Real Madrid. Out of the frying pan and into the fire for an Atletico Madrid side who appear to be in meltdown.

The Real Madrid midfielder Guti, left, and Atletico's Jose Antonio Reyes tangle for the ball.
The Real Madrid midfielder Guti, left, and Atletico's Jose Antonio Reyes tangle for the ball.

After Barcelona, comes Real Madrid. Out of the frying pan and into the fire for an Atletico Madrid side who appear to be in meltdown. A frenzied Madrid will host a derby laced with more disorder than usual when Real visit the Vicente Calderon Stadium tomorrow. With their team in disarray and their fans being castigated for racist abuse, Atletico could be seen to be in a state of anarchy, but have government support in a wrangle with European football's governing body Uefa.

A win over their local neighbours would be helpful, but only in a sense. The 1-0 defeat at the hands of Sevilla and the 6-1 trouncing by Barcelona in the Spanish league appear to be the least of their problems. Two of their Champions League games will be played away from their home ground after Uefa punished them for crowd disorder during the match with Marseille earlier this month. Atletico plan to appeal a two-game ban and a ?154,000 (Dh590,000) fine after the Uefa president Michel Platini sent a letter to the Spanish prime minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero defending the course of action.

The Spanish government appear to be unwavering in their backing of Atletico, and the conduct of police during the match. Liverpool are unlikely to have to worry about travelling to a venue outside of the Spanish capital for their Champions League match against Atletico on Wednesday. Any ban would take effect after the tie. In a playing sense, Atletico are trying to recreate the form that helped them qualify for the Champions League last year. They have not beaten Real in nine years, and will face a side who are unbeaten in their past five games.

The Real captain Raul has scored four goals in three league games. Atletico will be content if the striker Diego Forlan can return from injury. Real are three points behind the leaders Valencia and Villarreal with Atletico in ninth place in the standings. Liverpool could be without Fernando Torres for their match against Atletico with the Spain striker expected to be missing for at least 10 days.

He is also likely to miss the English Premier League game with Wigan, and next Sunday's match at Chelsea. Torres was injured in Spain's 2-1 World Cup qualifying victory over Belgium. "I am very disappointed about this, because it now looks like we will lose Fernando for three very important games," said Benitez "We have Wigan at home and Chelsea away in the league and Atletico Madrid away in the Champions League, so to lose any players is a big blow.

"The initial reports say Fernando is likely to be out for around 10 days, and that would mean he would miss these games." Charlton remain in discussions with a group of Dubai-based investors over a potential multi-million pound takeover as questions were raised in the UK Parliament about allegations of match-fixing in a Championship match between Norwich City and Derby. Manchester City are likely to cancel the contracts of their trio of Thai players, the club's representative in Thailand said yesterday.

Kiatprawut Saiwaew, Teerasil Dangda and Suree Sukha, signed by City's former owner Thaksin Shinawatra, no longer figured in the club's plans. Fans of the Scottish Premier League club Dundee United have been asked to dress in colourful clothes for the funeral of chairman Eddie Thompson. The millionaire Dundee businessman Thompson, 68, died on Wednesday after he lost a long battle with prostate cancer.

The club said it was his "special request" that mourners dressed colourfully when they pay their final respects next week. @Email:dkane@thenational.ae