Madrid madness: Coral’s awesome Atletico and Real deal combined XI
Last season’s La Liga winners Atletico Madrid and Champions League holders Real Madrid do battle for the eighth and final time this term this weekend, with Diego Simeone’s side unbeaten (W4, D3) against their city rivals so far.
Carlo Ancelotti and Los Blancos are odds-on 10/11 favourites with Coral to beat their neighbours in 90 minutes at the Bernabeu in Champions League quarter-final second leg action, however. Visitors Atletico are a tasty 10/3 for victory, with another draw (which means extra time and possibly penalties) priced at 5/2.
To celebrate these fierce rivals clashing yet again, our football experts have put their heads together to come up with a combined XI from Atleti and Real. A number of names are missing through injury or suspension.
Ancelotti is now without the suspended left back Marcelo and injured playmaker Luka Modric, while forward pair Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema are doubts.
Simeone, meanwhile, cannot call on Mario Suarez, who serves a ban. Mario Mandzukic should shake off an ankle knock to feature, though. Bearing this team news in mind, who made our all-star Madrid XI? Read on find out.
Goalkeeper: Jan Oblak
Slovenia stopper Oblak was outstanding in the first leg and the Atleti cup keeper edges out Real icon Iker Casillas to start in nets.
Right back: Juanfran Torres
The only player in our XI to have turned out for both Atleti and Real, Juanfran is keeping his Bernabeu counterpart Dani Carvajal out of the Spain squad. Supply from full back is essential for Simeone’s side with seven assists contributed to the cause across all competitions by the 30-year-old.
Centre back: Raphael Varane
Up-and-coming France defender Varane adds a touch of class to our all-star rearguard. He has featured in 18 clean sheet outings for Real this term in all competitions, and this is a clear sign of his progress. Red card candidates Sergio Ramos and Pepe take a backseat to their Bernabeu buddy.
Centre back: Diego Godin
Uruguay centre back Godin has helped Atletico keep 22 clean sheets across all competitions and has a knack for chipping in with important goals for Simeone, usually from set pieces. He is a nifty 9/1 to net anytime here.
Left back: Guilherme Siqueira
With Marcelo missing through suspension and Real understudy Fabio Coentrao otherwise frozen out of the first-team picture, Brazilian left back Siqueira is essentially included by default. Helping to seal 14 shut-outs this term, however, he has shown promise as a replacement for compatriot Filipe Luis, who followed Atleti top scorer Diego Costa to Chelsea last summer.
Central midfield: Koke
Creative force Koke has 17 assists in all competitions for Simeone’s side, and continues to attract Premier League interest. While he may not be interested in moving to England, El Clasico rivals Real and Barcelona will surely be keeping tabs on him, especially with Xavi’s career at the top looking like nearing the end.
Defensive midfield: Gabi
Atletico captain Gabi has made more tackles than any other player in La Liga this term. That rugged style is very much in the image of club boss Simeone. There’s silky skills aplenty in this XI, but some steel to sit in front of the back four is too tempting to ignore.
Central midfield: Toni Kroos
A deep-lying role with Real has really suited World Cup winner Kroos. The Germany international has racked up 14 assists in all competitions. Bernabeu teammate Isco has set up 13 goals for his colleagues, but we’ve gone with Kroos in our XI because of his consistent selection by Ancelotti when fit.
Forward: Antoine Griezmann
France attacker Griezmann continues to impress in wide areas following his move from Real Sociedad to Atleti. On 23 for the season, he has also made six assists. Tasty odds of 10/3 say Griezmann will net against Real anytime.
Forward: Mario Mandzukic
Croatia frontman Mandzukic has scored 20 times across all competitions in his maiden campaign at Atletico, two fewer than injured Bernabeu counterpart Karim Benzema. Simeone clearly uses former Bayern Munich striker Mandzukic, 11/4 to net anytime in the derby, as the focal point of his attack, while Real have goal threats from everywhere.
Forward: Cristiano Ronaldo
Ballon d’Or winner Ronaldo’s stats blow all others out the water. A staggering 50 strikes and 24 assists in 45 matches make him worthy of the award, and favourite to claim the next one. Ronaldo will want to enhance his record against Atletico, and is 7/2 strike first, or a superb 4/1 for two or more.