Real Madrid, having averted a disastrous Champions League exit, face metropolis rivals Atletico on Saturday trying all of the sudden well-equipped to smash their unbeaten run. Karim Benzema scored twice towards Borussia Moenchengladbach on Wednesday to finish any fears that Real would fail to progress to the group stage after that they had began the match with their hopes within the stability. With Sergio Ramos again to guide the defence and Benzema medical in entrance of aim, Real finally went by way of as group winners with a cushty 2-Zero victory which means they may keep away from lots of the large weapons within the final 16 draw.
Coach Zinedine Zidane, whose job has been the topic of hypothesis after a turbulent begin to the season, appears protected for now.
Atletico, who lead La Liga by a single level from the season’s shock package deal, Real Sociedad, additionally booked their ticket to the Champions League knockout stage with a composed 2-Zero win towards RB Salzburg in Austria.
Diego Simeone’s facet go into the last-16 draw as Group A runners-up behind reigning champions Bayern Munich.
While the town derby — albeit with out the fervent crowd such a recreation usually attracts to the Bernabeu — will dominate headlines on Saturday, Barcelona’s match towards Levante on Sunday may even come underneath intense scrutiny.
Barca are in such disarray that they want a victory merely to regular the ship after a morale-sapping 3-Zero defeat to Juventus within the Champions League.
The Catalans nonetheless certified for the final 16, however as group runners-up Lionel Messi and his teammates danger drawing one in every of Europe’s large names.
After the tumultuous summer season which just about noticed Messi depart, Barca and new coach Ronald Koeman by no means appear to have recovered. They sit an unaccustomed ninth within the desk with simply 14 factors from 10 video games.
Goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen mentioned a win towards modest Levante, who’ve simply three factors fewer than the Catalans, was important.
“In La Liga we are not where we want to be but we can claw back some points and that is the aim in the next few weeks.
“We’re enjoying at house and we won’t afford to drop a single level now.”
Sociedad meanwhile take on Eibar on Sunday.
Player to watch: Yannick Carrasco
The Belgian international returned from injury to score Atletico’s second goal against Salzburg with a deft volley from Angel Correa’s cross four minutes from time.
Simeone said after the Salzburg victory that he was becoming a key weapon for Atletico: “In the second half he was unbelievable, his rhythm, his work-rate, he wants to hold on like that…when he is enjoying at that stage he is a crucial participant and offers the staff one thing completely different.”
10 – Number of games Atletico have gone unbeaten since the start of the season
10 – Number of La Liga titles Atletico have won, compared to 34 for Real Madrid and 26 for Barcelona
Fixtures (all times GMT)
Valladolid v Osasuna (2000)
Valencia v Athletic Bilbao (1300), Getafe v Sevilla (1515), Huesca v Alaves (1730), Real Madrid v Atletico Madrid (2000)
Real Sociedad v Eibar (1300), Real Betis v Villarreal (1515), Elche v Granada (1730), Barcelona v Levante (2000)
Celta Vigo v Cadiz (2000)
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