Football

Up for the battle

Isco expects Madrid Derby to be tense affair, as Ronaldo returns for real

ATLETICO MADRID v REAL MADRID

(Tonight, 10.55pm, Singtel TV Ch 114 & StarHub TV Ch 208)

Isco is bracing himself for a scrap in tonight’s Madrid Derby, as Cristiano Ronaldo makes a timely return to the Real side after a two-match ban.

The Portuguese winger, who turned 30 on Thursday, missed the European champions’ victories against Real Sociedad and Sevilla after his red card at Cordoba.

His return will be most welcome for Carlo Ancelotti with his side missing key men for the crunch clash at the Vicente Calderon.

RIVALRY

Real face an Atletico team who have picked up 11 league wins in their past 14 matches and Isco is in little doubt that the leaders will have a tough test.

The midfielder said: “Everything about the derby makes it special, the buzz it generates weeks in advance with the rivalry between the two teams.

“We’ve been crossing paths a lot lately and it always has that special edge. There is no need to lose face at any moment. It will be a fiercely fought battle from the kick-off. We will try to do what we always do and hopefully we’ll be able to come out with a good result.

“There are no favourites for a match at this level. We’re both very good teams and we’re in good form. We’ll see what happens.”

James Rodriguez is out for Real after breaking his right foot, while Nacho Fernandez and Raphael Varane are set to start at the centre of the Real defence with both Sergio Ramos and Pepe injured.

Marcelo is out after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season, but Fabio Coentrao is fit once again and will replace the Brazilian at left back.

Atletico midfielder Koke has leapt to the defence of his side after they were accused of being too aggressive by Spanish media.

Atletico defender Diego Godin hit out at the reports saying “this talk has to stop” and his feelings have been backed up by Koke.

He said: “It bothers us when people say we’re violent. What, because we play the game with intensity? Itmakes us laugh, too. No one is going to change us.

“We can play good football too. We couldn’t have won the La Liga title or reached the Champions League final if all we did was kick teams off the park. You have to be able to play.”

Diego Simeone’s side, who are seven points behind their city rivals, have a good recent record against the European champions, remaining unbeaten in their five contests so far this season. Koke added: “They’re a great team, but these runs come and go. They had an amazing streak against us, we broke it and now we have one going. Here’s hoping we can prolong it.

“Real have strength in depth. We don’t think about who’s playing for them, we just try to have a go at them.”


Everything about the derby makes it special, the buzz it generates weeks in advance with the rivalry between the two teams. It will be fiercely fought from the off.

- Real midfielder Isco


FIXTURES

Today:

  • Atletico Madrid v Real Madrid (10.55pm)

Tomorrow:

  • Villarreal v Granada (12.55am)l Levante v Malaga (2.55am)l Real Sociedad v Celta Vigo (4.55am)l Cordoba v Almeria (6.55pm)
  • Getafe v Sevilla (11.55pm)

Monday:

  •  Espanyol v Valencia (1.55am)
  • Athletic Bilbao v Barcelona (3.55am)

Tuesday:

  • Elche v Rayo Vallecano (3.40am)

All matches will be shown LIVE on Singtel TV Ch 114 & StarHub TV Ch 208.