It’s derby day in Madrid on Saturday and the beautiful Wanda Metropolitano is ready to host the first Madrid derby of 2019.
A defeat to Real Betis in the previous league outing leaves Atletico Madrid with an immediate need to get things right again and put pressure on league leaders Barcelona.
Real Madrid have managed to string four wins in a row in the league and will be looking to extend it and head into the mid-week Champions League fixture against Ajax with full confidence.
The reverse fixture saw a pallid goalless draw at Santiago Bernabeu, but the stakes are higher now, as a win could send Madrid to second spot in the league table.
We take a look at the tactics Santiago Solari will look to employ in this big-ticket affair.
MAKE THE BEST OF VINCIUS JUNIOR’S VERSATILITY
The young Brazilian has taken La Liga by storm ever since he established himself in Madrid’s starting line-up. Technically a left-winger, Vinicius is comfortable on the right wing and can play as a pure number nine too.
His skill sets allow him to thrive on the wings better than anywhere, but he can be lethal from the centre, too. His performance against Sevilla serves as testimony to this. The Brazilian swapped spots with Karim Benzema after the break and looked threatening from the centre.
Solari should consider giving the 18-year-old a similar free role on Saturday. This will cause a lot of positional confusion in the Atletico back line and hence aid Madrid in breaking them down.
Both Benzema and winger Lucas Vasquez are comfortable with switching positions between the game and functioning as secondaries with Vinicius being the focal point.
DRAW ATLETICO OUT AND TROUBLE JAN OBLAK WITH HIGH SHOT VOLUME
It would be extremely safe to assume that Madrid will be the team in control of possession. Atleti will be totally fine with their rivals seeing more of the ball and will – in all certainty – hold a very deep line.
Atletico’s strength lies in soaking in the pressure and attacking on the counter. The fact that goalkeeper Jan Oblak – arguably the safest pair of hands in Europe – is unbelievable good from close range.
The defence too can ward off any danger that enters a crowded box.
Madrid should hence consider drawing Atletico out by circulating possession in the neutral third and then strike whenever the get the chance,
Solari’s men must have a go at every half-chance and trouble Oblak with a high shot volume. They must hence fancy a go from long range and make best use of set-piece opportunities.
The best keeper in Europe can comfortably deal with Madrid if the manage to muster a mere seven or eight shots the entire game. But a high shot-volume, regardless of quality, can test the Atletico custodian’s resilience and ensure that he ultimately buckles.
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