Real Madrid take on Atletico Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu tonight looking to exorcise the ghosts from last season’s final heartbreak.
Los Blancos succumbed to defeat a 2-1 to their city rivals for the first time in 14 years last May in the final of the Copa del Rey, ending Jose Mourinho’s chances of landing any major silverware in his final season in charge.
Months later, Diego Simeone’s men were back on the same ground, this time in La Liga. And DIego Costa’s solitary goal ensured new boss Carlo Ancelotti tasted defeated for the first time in his first ever Madrid derby. With those two painful defeats to draw on, Ancelotti shouldn’t need much to motivate his troops to ensure they make their third Copa del Rey final in four years.
And they come into the game on a 21-game unbeaten streak, dating back to the 2-1 loss to Barcelona at the Nou Camp in October. Indeed the 1-1 draw with Athletic Bilbao at the weekend ended a run of 11 straight wins for Ancelotti’s men in all competitions.
Cristiano Ronaldo is available for selection in the derby despite his sending off at the weekend. He will serve his suspension in La Liga matches only. And more good news for Madrid is the return of Gareth Bale from injury. Ancelotti has a full squad to pick from other than long-term absentees Raphael Varane and Sami Khedira. Iker Casillas is expected to take his place in goal.
Los Colchoneros will be bouyed coming into the game though, having opened up at gap at the top of La Liga. Diego Simeone’s men now had a three point advantage over Real and Barcelona. Arda Turan, the dangerous winger, should be back for the visitors having recovered from injury.