·22 September 2023
·22 September 2023
Atletico Madrid host city rivals Real Madrid in the first capital derby of the La Liga season on Sunday night.
While Diego Simeone's hosts have already experienced a wide range of emotions at this early stage of the season - best exemplified by their last two league results; a 7-0 win swiftly followed by a 3-0 loss - Real Madrid have made a perfect start to the new campaign.
Both clubs returned to Champions League action in midweek and wound up on opposite sides of late, decisive goals. Lazio's goalkeeper Ivan Provedel rescued a draw against Atletico the night before Jude Bellingham, a far more frequent scorer, snatched victory against Union Berlin with his sixth goal in as many games.
Here's everything you need to know about Sunday's derby.
Rodrigo De Paul has not featured for Atletico since the September international break / Angel Martinez/GettyImages
Simeone has gotten used to walking past long-term absentees Vitolo and Reinildo in Atletico's treatment room. Thomas Lemar will join the duo on the sidelines this weekend and for the foreseeable future after damaging his Achilles tendon. Club captain Koke has also been hampered by injury this term.
Rodrigo De Paul is expected to miss out on this weekend's derby after sustaining a muscular problem during international duty with Argentina. Memphis Depay is dealing with a similar issue of his own while summer arrival Caglar Soyuncu is set to be out of action until early October with a hip complaint.
Pablo Barrios opened the scoring against Lazio but the club confirmed the midfielder "suffered a muscular injury in his right leg" during the first half, leaving Atletico short in the middle. Converted centre-back Axel Witsel is also a doubt after limping off in the Champions League.
Atletico Madrid predicted lineup (3-4-1-2): Oblak; Savic, Gimenez, Hermoso; Molina, Llorente, Saul, Riquelme; Griezmann; Correa, Morata
If Atletico have a dearth of central midfielders, Carlo Ancelotti's squad is stuffed with options in that area of the pitch - so much so that the Italian has pivoted to a diamond formation this season.
Although, that's not to say that Madrid have entirely avoided injuries. First-choice goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois and arguably the club's best centre-back Eder Militao both suffered cruciate ligament damage in the summer.
Vinicius Junior's return may be delayed until the other side of October's international break as he is tentatively eased back from a hamstring injury.
Right-back Dani Carvajal is also a doubt with a muscular issue.
While Provedel's unlikely goal may have stung, Simeone described Atletico's 3-0 reverse against Valencia last weekend as "the worst we have played since I have been here". After the best part of 12 years and 632 matches, that is a pretty damning assessment.
Real Madrid's results may be faultless but their performances have been far less convincing. Bellingham-mania has certainly covered over plenty of cracks that Simeone will no doubt be targeting.
In what is often a disappointingly subdued fixture, the two capital rivals could cancel each other out this weekend.