Cristiano Ronaldo refuses to throw in the towel in the race for the Liga title as Real Madrid prepare to take on Atletico Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday.
Zinedine Zidane’s men have fallen nine points behind leaders and reigning champions Barcelona in the table, while they are trailing second-placed Atletico by one point with 13 more games to go.
Ronaldo believes the title race is not over just yet, though, and is determined to keep move ahead of Atletico in the title race in this weekend’s Madrid derby.
“Football is full of surprises and anything can happen,” the Portugal international told Mahou. “You have to fight until the end.
“I hope that it will be a great game on Saturday and that Real Madrid can win.”
Madrid face a tough task to see off their city rivals on Saturday, though, as they have struggled to get the better of Diego Simeone’s men in recent years.
They have not defeated Atletico in any of their last five league games, their longest run without a win against them in history.
Madrid will likely still be without Gareth Bale (calf) and Pepe (foot) on Saturday, but Karim Benzema seems ready to feature after overcoming a hip problem, while Marcelo is also expected to make it despite missing training on Wednesday.
Atletico Madrid, meanwhile, will be desperate to get a good result against their rivals to keep their title dreams alive.
They had to settle for a scoreless draw with Villarreal last week, while they also failed to find the net in the Champions League draw with PSV on Wednesday, but Oliver Torres is confident the goals will come eventually.
“We will give 100 per cent in the derby, just like we do in any other game,” Oliver was quoted as saying by AS.
“Of course, it is a special game. We know how important the match is and will give our all.
“Some days the goals come easily and other days not so much. We just have to keep up the good work and keep pushing.”
Simeone’s men might have been struggling going forward, but they have an astonishing defensive record. Atletico have conceded just 11 goals in La Liga, which is a joint-low across the top 5 European leagues, with Bayern Munich equally strong at the back.
Additionally, they have gone 180 minutes of play without conceding a single shot on target in La Liga, with Eibar’s Saul Berjon the last player to test goalkeeper Jan Oblak on February 6.
Atletico will still be without winger Yannick Ferreira Carrasco (ankle injury) and Tiago (broken leg), while Stefan Savic is doubtful after picking up a calf problem versus PSV, but Thomas Partey is ready to make his return after resuming squad training on Thursday.
Key Opta facts:
– Real Madrid have won their last seven league games at home, scoring an average of 5.28 goals per game.
– Away from home, Atletico Madrid have suffered just three defeats in 13 La Liga games this season, conceding only five goals.
– Real Madrid have won 17 of their last 19 Madrid derbies at home in La Liga (losing the two remaining games, both against Atletico).
– Diego Simeone’s side have gone 16 Madrid derbies without a defeat in La Liga (winning 13, drawing three).
– Cristiano Ronaldo has not scored in any of his last four games against Atletico in all competitions – his worst such run against them in his Real Madrid career.
– Antoine Griezmann is currently on his longest run without a league goal this season (five games).