Barcelona travel to Coliseum Alfonso Perez for a demanding away tie as Getafe look to maintain their unbeaten record at home.
The Catalans are fresh from a 2-1 win over Villarreal at home, well aware that a win in Madrid will require a special performance.
A mid-week Champions League fixture against Inter Milan provides coach Ernesto Valverde the rotation dilemma and injury to Lionel Messi complicates the matter further.
We take a look at the talking points ahead of the weekend tie.
Time for Suarez to see the bench
Luis Suarez has struggled heavily since his knee injury from last season but Valverde has remained patient and publicly vouched for the Uruguayan. However, there are no signs of improvement and it’s just a question of when rather than if he loses his status as a starter.
The 32-year-old scored a brace against Valencia but has not produced a constructive moment ever since. Two years ago, Suarez, with his astute positioning and movement proved fruitful even when he could not register himself on the scoresheet.
But he is now a liability, rarely on the same wavelength as his team-mates and often acts as a roadblock to promising passages of play. It’s time Suarez keeps his ego aside, subjects himself to a bench role and helps the team as much as he can as a super-sub like he did against Valencia.
Valverde must consider starting Ousmane Dembele and Ansu Fati on either side of Antoine Griezmann. This will also allow the former Atletico Madrid man to play in a central role.
Is Alena forgotten?
Ever since the emergence of Fati from the La Masia ranks, the murmurs surrounding yet another academy product in Carles Alena have diminished.
The 21-year-old was tipped to grab a sporadic role this season before stepping up to play a bigger part. But he has not played a single minute after Barcelona’s La Liga opener. He was never injured or suspended, but he was not provided any minutes. The midfielder did not even make the match-day squad on some occasions and is now in need of minutes.
With a tough Champions League tie against Inter on Wednesday, Valverde could consider some serious rotations in midfield. Frenkie de Jong and Sergio Busquets started on the bench against Villarreal and are likely to start against Getafe. Alena should start at the expense of Arthur, who can do with some rest before the big game on Wednesday.
Expect lots of goals
Contrary to the reputation they built last season, Getafe are far from being experts in defence. A side that conceded fewer goals than Barcelona and Real Madrid last season has already given away nine goals in six games – just two fewer than the worst defence that belongs to Valencia (11).
In their last two games, the Madrid side conceded five goals but also scored seven. They beat Mallorca 4-2 before drawing 3-3 with Valencia. Jaime Mata has already stepped on the gas, scoring three goals and registering one assist so far.
Despite their struggles and injury to Messi, Barcelona are still statistically the best attack with 14 goals. Griezmann has fit in reasonably well and Fati has shown great promise in the final third.
At the same time, Barcelona’s defence has been shambolic so far. They are conceding goal-scoring opportunities habitually and are very vulnerable at the back. Six games into the season and the Catalan side are yet to keep a clean sheet.
These facts point to the possibility of a lot of goals when the two teams lock horns on Saturday.
The Wanda Metropolitano is set to host one of the fiercest derbies in the world as Atletico Madrid take on Real Madrid on Saturday.
Both teams started their campaign on a shaky note and did not win their Champions League tie last week. But convincing wins in the mid-week games has handed the two teams a boost ahead of the big game.
A derby is bound to feature some individual duels on the pitch that could determine the outcome of the game. We look at the key-battles.
EDEN HAZARD V KIERAN TRIPPIER
Eden Hazard and Kieran Trippier will bring elements of the London derby to Madrid when they occupy the same flank on Saturday.
An incredible performance by Vinicius Junior against Osasuna should help him stake his claim for a starter’s role but Zinedine Zidane is likely to pick the experienced Belgian for such a big game. This means that the former Chelsea man will be under pressure to justify his spot in the line-up, given he has struggled and is yet to register a goal or assist this season.
Hazard will have to overcome a familiar foe in former Tottenham full-back Kieran Trippier. On the other hand, the Englishman has enjoyed a positive start to life in Madrid. He has been one of their best players so far and Europe noticed this during his splendid display against Juventus.
THOMAS PARTEY V CASEMIRO
Both players are in great form and have rarely hit a bump this season. Casemiro has been the solid defensive screen protecting the shaky back-line whereas Partey has alternated between undertaking the role of a defensive midfielder and a box-to-box one.
The defensive-minded Ghanian midfielder offers a lot even in attack and has been the pivot for Los Rojiblancos. He played a crucial role in their win against Mallorca that ended a three-match win-less streak across all competitions.
His high work-rate and ability to launch counter-attacks could be key to Atletico in a game where the opposition is likely to enjoy more possession. On such an occasion, Casemiro will be tested, with both full-backs high up the pitch.
The Brazilian must be cautious at all times and throw in tactical fouls when needed. He might have to cover massive amounts of space because of the poor sense of positioning of Madrid’s centre-backs.
DIEGO COSTA V SERGIO RAMOS
Spanish team-mates Diego Costa and Sergio Ramos will lock horns in Madrid’s defensive half. The former scored four goals when Atletico forced a 7-3 rout over their rivals in a pre-season friendly. Ramos displayed a defensive disaster-class in that class but is now in positive spirits of a solid show against Osasuna.
Costa has scored one goal and assisted another in the league this season but he was average against Juventus in the Champions League. The 30-year-old has forged a good partnership with youngster Joao Felix and will be motivated to shine in a derby he cherishes.
Ramos needs to put in a disciplined shift to stop the striker who sunk his team during the UEFA Super Cup last year from repeating his exploits. Given the tendency of both players to wind each other up, they will need to show great composure to emerge victorious in this match-up. A red card to either or both the player is not that unlikely.
The first true heavyweight clash of the La Liga season takes place in the Spanish capital on Saturday night as Atletico Madrid host near neighbours Real Madrid.
Both teams gained morale-boosting midweek wins ahead of the encounter, with Atletico triumphing 2-0 at Mallorca while Real prevailed by the same scoreline at home to Osasuna.
That victory was enough to take Zinedine Zidane’s men to the top of the table, but Diego Simeone’s side would leapfrog them by coming out on top at the Wanda Metropolitano.
Let’s check out some of the big talking points ahead of an explosive showdown.
Real on a roll?
Just a week ago, the walls appeared to be closing in on Zidane after his team suffered a humbling Champions League defeat at Paris Saint-Germain, with the scale of the defeat and the nature of the performance leading to speculation that club president Florentino Perez was already planning to dispense with Zidane and re-recruit Jose Mourinho.
However, two wins have turned that picture around, as Los Blancos reasserted themselves by earning a gritty 1-0 victory at Sevilla on Sunday night before comfortably seeing off Osasuna in midweek.
Most importantly, Zidane’s men were able to restrict their opponents to zero shots on target in both games, achieving a massive defensive improvement following a shambolic display in Paris just a few days earlier.
In terms of personnel, Zidane will probably be forced into fielding versatile Nacho at left-back with Ferland Mendy definitely ruled out and Marcelo facing a race against time, while Raphael Varane should return to partner Sergio Ramos in the middle despite an eye-catching performance from Eder Militao in the win against Osasuna.
Irrespective of the specific players picked, however, Zidane will be looking for the same serious attitude and organisation throughout the team as they attempt to claim a third consecutive clean sheet.
Costa and Joao back in the goals
Simeone’s selection for the game was simplified in midweek when striker Alvaro Morata was sent off at Mallorca, meaning he will be suspended for the derby and leaving Diego Costa and Joao Felix as certain starters.
It hasn’t been a particularly strong start to the season for either striker, with Portuguese wonderkid Felix showing flashes of his obvious talent without delivering on a consistent basis, while Costa looked out of touch and lacking confidence in front of goal.
However, both players got on the scoresheet in the win at Mallorca, with Costa finally breaking a six-month spell of failing to score in La Liga, while Felix netted his second goal of the season.
Simeone will be hoping that is the start of something special between two players who look capable of forming a formidable partnership on paper, but have rarely done so on the pitch so far. If Felix’s creativity and Costa’s power can be harnessed to work in harmony, Real’s task in seeking that third straight clean sheet will be a tough one indeed.
There are bigger selection dilemmas in midfield, where Simeone has to select two from Thomas Partey, Marcos Llorente, Vitolo and Thomas Lemar to play alongside Saul and Koke. Partey performed well in the victory at Mallorca and would give the team added defensive presence, while wingers Vitolo and Lemar would provide more of an attacking spark. Considering the opposition and the occasion, Simeone may well prefer the former to the latter.
Wings hold the key?
From a tactical perspective, the wings will play a major part in deciding which team dominates the game.
Atletico full-backs Kieran Trippier and Renan Lodi play a vital role in their team’s attacking strategy, with both encouraged to add width and penetration by making forceful bursts down their flanks, as well as delivering a steady stream of crosses towards Costa and Felix.
However, they will have their hands full in nullifying the attacking threat posed by Real wingers Eden Hazard and Gareth Bale, who should be in good physical shape after being rested by Zidane for the midweek win over Osasuna.
It’s a big opportunity for Hazard in particular to make his first major mark as a Real player, but if he fails to shine Zidane has a tough decision a Brazilian starlet on the bench. Vinicius Junior started against Osasuna and opened the scoring with a fine solo strike for his first goal of the season.
Meanwhile, Rodrygo Goes was even more impressive after emerging from the bench to score a fine second goal on his competitive debut. However, Zidane has revealed Rodrygo will be playing for Castilla this weekend.