The Santiago Bernabeu shot-stopper – who almost left for Manchester United this summer – is relishing the Blancos’ testing visit to the Vicente Calderon
Keylor Navas says Real Madrid’s players are relishing the challenge of travelling to the Vicente Calderon to face Atletico Madrid in La Liga on Sunday.
Rafael Benitez’s side will be desperate to end their recent run of woe against their local rivals, particularly at their local rivals’ ground.
While their win last year in a Champions League quarter-final second leg ended a run of seven winless games in meetings with Atletico, Real Madrid have not managed to come out on top in their last five away derby clashes.
Failure to triumph in this clash would equal their worst ever run in the fixture. They have also been unable to score in their four most recent trips to take on their cross-city rivals.
Atletico have lost two of their first six league games in 2015-16 and will be eager to prevent another setback. They trail surprise leaders Villarreal by four points and third-placed Real Madrid by two.
Despite the motivated opposition and difficulty of the game, though, goalkeeper Navas is positive about the task at hand.
“It is one of the most important games in La Liga, anyone would want to play in it,” he said.
“The fact it is a derby is added motivation. They have their fans, but ultimately it is 11 versus 11 and that is the most important thing.
“I approach every game with the same level of seriousness. All of the opponents deserve respect, but it is a nice and important game and fans really live it to the maximum.”
One Madrid player who does have a decent record against Atletico is Cristiano Ronaldo, who has scored eight times in his last seven appearances against Diego Simeone’s men.
After passing 500 career goals with the first of his two goals against Malmo in the Champions League on Wednesday, a solitary strike will see him surpass Raul to become Real Madrid’s all-time record goalscorer.
Atletico, who will make a late check on Koke’s fitness, are without a key figure in suspended midfielder Gabi.
Madrid’s Gareth Bale and Sergio Ramos are both expected to return for the game while Danilo, James Rodriguez and Pepe are more doubtful, although they are yet to be definitively ruled out of the match.