Atletico seek Real re­venge in last Calderon derby

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

MADRID: Atletico Madrid host Real Madrid for the last time in La Liga at the Vi­cente Calderon to­day with the pain of a sec­ond Cham­pi­ons League fi­nal de­feat in three years to their city ri­vals still fresh in the mem­ory.

How­ever, both sides have been trou­bled by se­vere in­jury prob­lems with Atletico’s top scorer An­toine Griez­mann and Real cap­tain Ser­gio Ramos fac­ing a race against time to be fit.

Real lifted their 11th Euro­pean Cup on penal­ties in the last meet­ing be­tween the teams in May and Atletico are the more des­per­ate side for more rea­sons than just re­venge as Diego Sime­one’s men lie six points off the lead­ers at the top of the ta­ble. “There are scars that re­main there and that we will never forget,” said Atletico cap­tain Gabi.

“They are bit­ter mo­ments and above all they are hard be­cause of what it meant to all Atletico fans.”

Atletico are due to move to their new La Peineta sta­dium next sea­son af­ter 50 years at the Calderon.

And af­ter two de­feats in three games, Gabi be­lieves vic­tory is nec­es­sary to get back in the ti­tle hunt.

“That it is the last derby at the Calderon in La Liga makes it all the more ex­cit­ing and spe­cial,” he added. “If we win we are in the fight once more.”

Griez­mann re­turned from in­ter­na­tional duty with France with a se­verely bruised left foot, but has trained this week and is ex­pected to start. Real are even more rav­aged by in­jury with Toni Kroos, Casemiro and Al­varo Mo­rata def­i­nitely side­lined. Ramos hasn’t played since sprain­ing knee lig­a­ments over a month ago, but is aim­ing to re­turn with his usual cen­tral de­fen­sive part­ner Pepe also a ma­jor doubt.

How­ever, Madrid will have a fully-fit Luka Mo­dric, who Gabi de­scribed as Real’s “best player” free to start for the first time in nearly two months. De­spite Real’s Euro­pean hoodoo over Atletico, it is the red and white side of Madrid that has dom­i­nated in re­cent sea­sons in league en­coun­ters. Atletico haven’t lost a league derby in the past three sea­sons, in­clud­ing Zinedine Zidane’s only La Liga de­feat as Real boss in a 1-0 win at the San­ti­ago Bern­abeu back in Fe­bru­ary.

BARCA’S CHANCE

With their two ma­jor ti­tle ri­vals fac­ing off, Barcelona have the chance to jump into top spot ear­lier on Sat­ur­day when Malaga visit the Camp Nou. Barca re­versed a trend of poor re­sults fol­low­ing in­ter­na­tional breaks with a 4-0 ham­mer­ing of De­portivo la Coruna last month, but once again face be­ing de­prived of some of their South Amer­i­can stars. Luis Suarez is sus­pended, whilst Lionel Messi and Ney­mar only ar­rived back in Barcelona on Thurs­day af­ter star­ring for Ar­gentina and Brazil re­spec­tively in World Cup qual­i­fy­ing.

Paco Al­cacer will start in Suarez’s ab­sence as he con­tin­ues his search for a first Barca goal since a 30 mil­lion euro move from Va­len­cia in Au­gust. Mean­while, Barca should be boosted by the re­turn of Ger­ard Pique and Jordi Alba from in­jury.

Sevilla will aim to re­main in the ti­tle hunt and bounce­back from a thrilling 2-1 de­feat to Barca a fort­night ago when they visit De­portivo la Coruna

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