With all eyes falling on the Spanish capital on Sunday night, Real Madrid and Atletico played out a dramatic 1-1 draw at the Bernabeu.
Getting off to a flying start on home soil as one-time Manchester City starlet Brahim Diaz opened the scoring after 20 minutes, it appeared that Carlo Ancelotti’s side were sat in pole position to make a crucial statement in the title chase.
However, while Los Blancos might have dominated large spells of the first half, it was ex-Real Madrid ace Marcos Llorente who came back to haunt his boyhood club.
Producing a smart header late in injury time and silencing a sellout crowd at the Bernabeu, Real Madrid missed out on the chance to widen their advantage at the top of the La Liga table to four points.
In what was an expectedly emotional affair on Sunday night, Atletico will undoubtedly take plenty of positives away from a famous last-gasp comeback here.
A heavyweight showdown that saw chances fall at both ends of the pitch, we have taken a look at the key talking points.
A missed opportunity for Los Blancos
Picking up some perfect momentum earlier in the week as they secured a routine 2-0 victory away at local rivals Getafe, Los Blancos were hoping to make another statement in the capital.
While Real Madrid might have been relieved to see Girona drop a pair of points over the weekend as they had to settle for a 0-0 stalemate against Real Sociedad, Ancelotti’s men will feel that they missed out on a golden opportunity here.
Just seconds away from securing what could have been a crucial La Liga victory, the one-time AC Milan boss will know that his superstar squad can not afford any complacency over the second half of the campaign.
With a record-breaking Girona still breathing firmly down their neck, Sunday’s hosts will be desperate to prove that their late collapse here was nothing more than a minor blip in their bid to claim a 30th La Liga crown.
Still holding just a slender two-point lead over the chasing pack, Ancelotti’s men will be more than aware that they have plenty of pressure on their shoulders as they look to make even more domestic history in 2024.
Atletico extend on their domestic flurry
While Atletico Madrid might have signed off 2023 in the midst of an inconsistent blip, Sunday’s guests have come roaring back in an eye-catching fashion since opening the New Year.
Springing a Copa del Rey upset against their bitter local rivals on January 18th as they secured an action-packed 4-2 victory on home soil, Diego Simeone’s men are firmly sat in the driving seat to punch another top-six four finish.
Making a real statement over the festive period as they cruised their way to a Champions League knockout stage ticket, Atletico will take plenty of positives away from their dramatic late escape here.
With a Copa del Rey semi-final showdown against Athletic Bilbao on the cards in midweek, Simeone’s men are certainly riding a recent wave of momentum.
Unbeaten in all of their previous six domestic appearances across all competitions and enjoying their most successful spell since back in October, Sunday’s guests will believe that the least they can do is secure another bronze medal finish among Spain’s elite this season.
Ancelotti calling for some defensive stability
Although Real Madrid might still find themselves tipped as a heavy leading contender to reclaim their La Liga crown this season, Los Blancos have largely struggled to find much defensive stability over recent times.
Suffering major late heartbreak here, Ancelotti will know the importance of finding a way to fix what has become an increasingly leaky defence in the capital.
Crashing out of the Copa del Rey last month following a dramatic 4-2 defeat at the hands of Atletico, Sunday’s hosts have secured just a single clean sheet from any of their previous eight appearances across all competitions – a run that stems back to January 3rd.
Still unable to call upon the likes of Eder Militao, David Alaba and former Chelsea shot-stopper Thibaut Courtois due to respective knee injuries, Madrid’s defence certainly have some superstar names missing.
Recording back-to-back clean sheets on just one occasion since returning from November’s international break, Los Blancos have also come away unscathed just once on home soil over the past two months.
Real Madrid: Lunin, Vazquez, Carvajal, Fernandez, Mendy, Valverde, Kroos, Camavinga, Bellingham, Rodrygo, Diaz
Subs: Ceballos, Joselu, Modric
Atletico Madrid: Oblak, Savic, Witsel, Hermoso, Riquelme, Niguez, Koke, de Paul, Lorente, Griezmann, Morata
Subs: Depay, Barrios, Lino, Molina
Goals: Real Madrid: Diaz (20’) – Atletico Madrid: Llorente (90+3’)
Yellow Cards: Hermoso, Niguez, Barrios, Depay
Red Cards: N/A
Referee: Jose María Sanchez Martinez
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