One of the biggest fixtures on the European calendar will take place at Bernabeu on Sunday night, as Real Madrid welcome bitter rivals Atletico Madrid for the Madrid derby.
A brilliant 2021-22 campaign to date has left Los Blancos top of La Liga with 39 points to show from their opening 16 matches, while Atletico are fourth, 10 points behind their opponents here.
There were question marks over Real Madrid heading into the 2021-22 campaign, with only Eduardo Camavinga and David Alaba arriving to boost the squad over the summer, while influential defenders Raphael Varane and Sergio Ramos were both allowed to move on in search of pastures new.
Los Blancos have been excellent this season, though, securing their spot in the knockout round of the Champions League as Group D winners, in addition to sitting eight points clear at the top of La Liga.
Indeed, a record of 12 wins, three draws and one defeat from 16 matches has brought Carlo Ancelotti’s side 39 points, leaving them eight clear of second-placed Sevilla and 10 ahead of Atletico in fourth, although both teams have a game in hand over the current leaders.
Real Madrid have incredibly won each of their last nine matches in all competitions, including a 2-0 success over Inter Milan in the Champions League on Tuesday, while they ran out 2-0 winners over Real Sociedad in the league last weekend courtesy of goals from Vinicius Junior and Luka Jovic.
Ancelotti’s team now have three league matches ahead of the winter break, facing Atletico, Cadiz and Athletic Bilbao, and it would be difficult to imagine the capital giants being caught in the second half of the campaign if they can open up a double-figure lead heading into the winter break.
Atletico will be aware of the importance of this weekend’s Madrid derby if they are to stay in touch with the leaders, but the reigning Spanish champions have found it difficult to show consistency in recent weeks.
Diego Simeone’s side suffered a shock 2-1 home loss to Mallorca last weekend, with the result seeing them drop down to fourth spot in the table, two points behind second-placed Sevilla and 10 off the summit.
Atletico did manage to secure a huge victory in the Champions League on Tuesday, though, recording a 3-1 win over Porto to book their spot in the last-16 stage of the competition as Group B runners-up.
The Spanish champions have already dropped points in seven of their 15 league matches this season, but they are the second-highest scorers in La Liga this term behind Real Madrid, finding the back of the net on 27 occasions, although Luis Suarez’s likely absence through injury this weekend is a big blow.
Atletico have not beaten Los Blancos in La Liga since a 1-0 victory at Bernabeu during the 2015-16 campaign, although five of the last eight league meetings between the two sides have finished level, including a 1-1 draw at Wanda Metropolitano back in March