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La Liga Preview: Atletico Madrid v Real Madrid

Atletico Madrid can claim a first league double over city rivals Real since the 1950-51 season when the two meet at Vicente Calderon.

On that occasion, Atleti went on to claim the Liga title, and Diego Simeone will hope that proves to be a positive omen in an ever-intriguing battle for this year’s championship.

Real top the pile in La Liga with 63 points going into the fixture, just three above Gerardo Martino’s Barcelona and Atleti, who sit second and third respectively.

Simeone’s men triumphed 1-0 in the reverse fixture last September thanks to Diego Costa’s goal, meaning Atleti can end a 63-year wait for a league double on Sunday.

To do so, Atleti will have to end a run of six successive league defeats to Real on their own patch, and claim a first home Liga triumph over the Bernabeu outfit since a 3-1 victory in 1999.

Simeone can take confidence from an unbeaten home league record this season, but the most recent encounters between the two sides saw Real cruise to a 5-0 aggregate victory in the Copa del Rey semi-finals in January.

That win went a long way to avenging a 2-1 extra-time defeat to Atleti in last year’s Copa final and Carlo Ancelotti’s men have been in supreme form in La Liga recently.

The last time the Italian witnessed his side lose a league match was a 2-1 defeat to Barcelona in El Clasico at the end of October.

Since then Real have dropped points on just two occasions and another win against Simeone’s charges would cement their title ambitions.

Furthermore, Real head into the encounter on the back of a 6-1 demolition of Schalke in their UEFA Champions League last-16 first-leg encounter on Wednesday.

Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo all notched twice in that match, and the Portuguese returns to league action after serving a three-match ban for a red card in the 1-1 draw with Athletic Bilbao at the start of February.

That means Sami Khedira (knee) remains the only absentee for Real, while Atleti have no any fresh injury worries, as they look for a swift response to the 3-0 defeat at Osasuna last weekend.

Fri 28 February, 2014
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