La Liga 12/12/21: Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid set for Bernabeu showdown

There’s always a surprise or two thrown up in La Liga. Last weekend’s results pay testament to this, with Barcelona slipping up at home to Real Betis, while Atletico Madrid were stunned by Real Mallorca. We will chew the fat ahead of the Madrid derby between Real and Atletico at the Bernabeu on Sunday, as well as supply the latest match odds.

Real Madrid cruise to victory against Real Sociedad

Real Madrid produced another immaculate display last Sunday, as they cruised to a 2-0 victory over Real Sociedad. In truth, Sociedad created very little, but Carlo Ancelotti’s men took charge early on. Vinicius Jr. continued his fine scoring form by netting one just two minutes after the restart before Luka Jovic, who replaced the injured Karim Benzema, headed home his first of the campaign.

Real have now won their past eight matches on the trot in all competitions, and they have the wind in their sails. The victory over Sociedad can’t be understated, and they have carved open an eight-point cushion at the top of the La Liga table. With a last-16 Champions League spot also in the bank, Ancelotti’s men are in good shape.

Vinicius Jr. is more than just his stats

Strikers are usually judged on their goalscoring output. This season, Vinicius Jr. looks a player possessed. He has racked up 11 goals and 7 assists in La Liga this season, averaging a goal involvement every 89.7 minutes. But the 21-year-old Brazilian is arguably more than just his goals. He has improved many areas of his game, including his first touch.

Carlo Ancelotti hopeful Karim Benzema will be fit in time for Madrid derby

Ancelotti’s brow will have been rather furrowed when Benzema came off in the victory over Sociedad with a hamstring problem. The French striker is expected to miss the final Champions League group game against Inter Milan, but Ancelotti is hoping Benzema will be available for the Madrid derby. A victory for Real would further underline their title credentials.

Gareth Bale edging closer to Real Madrid return

After making just three appearances for Real Madrid this season, Gareth Bale could be edging closer to a return to action. A combination of knee and calf injuries have hampered the Welshman, and he faces a battle to regain his starting spot. Marco Asensio and Rodrygo have shone in his absence, but he could get a run out as Ancelotti likes his experienced troops.

Atletico Madrid fall off title pace after defeat to Real Mallorca

With a Madrid derby on the horizon, defeat against Real Mallorca was hardly the best way to prepare. Diego Simeone made much of the running in the early stages, but a left-footed strike from Takefusa Kubo deep in stoppage time stunned the home crowd. A 2-1 loss leaves Atletico clinging onto a top-four spot, but they are 10 points adrift of Real Madrid.

And there was a further blow for Simeone. Stefan Savic was hooked off after just 10 minutes of the defeat against Mallorca with a suspected knee ligament issue. It could mean that the Montenegrin international may not turn out again for Atletico this calendar year. Further tests are expected to reveal the full extent of the damage.

Things are set to go down to the wire in the Champions League for Atletico, but Simeone wants his side to show their trademark resilience in the coming days. After the defeat to Mallorca, he said: “You have to win these games and everyone worked very hard today. This result hurt us, that’s the reality.” Atletico have to buck up their players.

Real Madrid v Atletico Madrid: Unlocking the vault on the Madrid derby

The stakes are always high, especially when it comes to the Madrid derby, which has taken on added significance in recent years. However, it has been a derby of slim pickings for Atletico if we look back on their most recent trip to the Bernabeu. Last season, Real ran out 2-0 winners with Casemiro breaking the deadlock before Jan Oblak scored a freak own goal.

Atletico have to make themselves tough to beat, as their defence looks rather flimsy at the moment. Real, meanwhile, have confidence surging through their veins. Vinicius Jr. is boasting the Midas touch, and while it may be touch and go if Benzema is passed fit, Real should have enough to see off their neighbours.

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