Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid collide at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium on Sunday in a contest that could decide a little more than just who finishes runners-up.
If Los Blancos secure victory, Barcelona will hold at least a nine-point advantage; potentially 12, if they can overcome Leganes on Saturday evening, with seven games remaining. And considering Barca are yet to taste defeat in Spain’s top tier this term, “no hay liga” could be a common phrase across the country’s capital by the close of this weekend.
However, if Atleti can claim the spoils, they will hold a seven-point buffer over their city rivals come full-time, as well as keeping their minimal championship hopes alive.
Both outfits certainly have players within their ranks that can make the difference on Sunday, so ahead of the contest, let’s take a look at what a combined Madrid XI could look like…
1. Jan Oblak
Although Keylor Navas played a pivotal role in Real Madrid’s Champions League victory over Juventus in midweek, the number one jersey between the two sides must be donned by Atletico Madrid’s Jan Oblak.
The 25-year-old Slovenian has been instrumental in Diego Simeone’s side’s almost impassible defensive line this season; conceding a mere 14 goals in 2,700 minutes of football as well as keeping 19 clean sheets in La Liga alone.
2. Dani Carvajal
Considering Atleti currently have just four fully fit defenders at their disposal, it comes as little surprise to see Los Blancos’ influence take control in the back four, despite conceding over double the number of goals this campaign.
If Sime Vrsaljko had been fit, things might well have been different; however, Zinedine Zidane’s Dani Carvajal trumps the ageing Juanfran for the right back spot.
And it is the same story at left back, where Marcelo pips Lucas Hernadez to the starting line up while Filipe Luis nurses himself back to recovery.
Although, the Brazilian may well find it difficult to claim his spot back on his return thanks to his replacement’s immense form of late.
4. Sergio Ramos
In the middle pairing, however, there is no debate, with Sergio Ramos undoubtedly the most influential centre back in either outfit.
The highly decorated defender, who has amassed 22 different trophies during his career; including a World Cup and three Champions League titles, has been ‘Mr. Reliable’ for Los Blancos since his early days in Madrid in 2005.
5. Diego Godin
Alongside Ramos would be another experienced head in Diego Godin, who, similarly to his opposite number, has been a crucial fixture in his side’s defensive line for some time.
The 32-year-old would certainly be preferred to Real’s Raphael Varane, who, despite the high expectations, has left the Madridistas wanting more all too regularly so far during his career at the Bernabeu.
6. Toni Kroos
The middle of the park, however, solely belongs to Los Blancos, and Toni Kroos’ remarkable ability to retain possession as well as catalyse a killer blow is paramount in their dominance.
The German holds a pass completion rate of 92 per cent across the season to date and has created 49 clear chances in his 21 showings this term.
Isco is another whose influence on proceedings has been evident more so this term than any other, with the Spaniard’s contributions during Champions League outings, in particular – as was shown against Juventus – a substantial factor in his side’s success in the competition this year.
8. Luka Modric
Luka Modric is yet another Real Madrid midfielder who is a cut above those who feature regularly at the Wanda Metropolitano.
The Croatia international is potentially enjoying his last season under Florentino Perez’s stewardship, but on this term’s displays, has proved he still has what it takes to be pivotal at the top level.
9. Cristiano Ronaldo
Of course, however, when speaking of those who can make the biggest impact on the grandest stages, Cristiano Ronaldo’s name is never far away.
Since the turn of the year, and after enduring his first crisis of confidence, arguably, of his entire career earlier in the season, the Portugal international has been in inspired form; closing in on Lionel Messi in the race for the Pichichi with 18 goals in 11 games.
10. Antoine Griezmann
Antoine Griezmann is another who can prove to be the difference at any given moment, with the Frenchman rediscovering his best form this term.
If speculation is to be believed, Sunday will be the 27-year-old’s final Madrid derby, but it certainly will not be the last time he is involved in a LaLiga defining contest, with Barcelona said to be the attacker’s next destination.
11. Gareth Bale
And finally, although Zidane has seemingly lost confidence somewhat this year in his ability to provide an impact consistently, Gareth Bale is one whose talents should not be overlooked.
Due to the Welshman’s well-documented injury issues, the 28-year-old has only been able to feature from the outset 15 times in the league this campaign, although, has still found the back of the net 11 times in those outings.