By Chukwuemeka Igwe
Tonight Atletico Madrid makes the short trip across town to face their bitter city rivals Real Madrid for the second leg of the big fight for a place in the semifinals of the UEFA Champions League.
In the first leg Real Madrid faced Atletico at Vicente Calderón Stadium and the match ended in a 0-0 stalemate with Real Madrid being the better team but failed to break Atletico Madrid’s defensive line.
The second leg of the quarter finals will be played at the Bernabeu Stadium on April 22, 2015. Real Madrid will have to be at their best if they are to beat Atletico Madrid because they are without some of their key players. These players include the Croatian midfield ace, Luka Modric, and the world’s most expensive player, Gareth Bale, who both picked up injuries in Saturday’s 3-1 La Liga win over Malaga. The main striker, Karim Benzema, is also out with a knee injury and the Brazilian left-back Marcelo, who picked up a suspension in first leg of the quarter finals.
Atletico Madrid are considered slight favourites to progress to the semi finals of the UEFA Champions League due to the injury problems Carlo Ancelotti and his team have to face. If Atletico goes for a 1-1 draw or a win in the second leg at the Bernabeu Stadium, then they will progress to the semi finals of the UEFA Champions League. Real Madrid’s manager, Carlo Ancelotti has to prepare a strong team if they are to beat Atletico.
After the win against Atletico in the final of the UEFA Champions League in May, Real has not beaten Atletico in their last seven matches. Carlo Ancelotti will be hoping his team can end this winless streak against their bitter rivals. Real Madrid has to go for a win and not a draw if they wish to progress to the next stage, where they will face tougher opponents, like Bayern Munich, Barcelona and possibly Juventus.
There are suggestions that Real will play a 4-4-2 formation instead of a 4-3-3 formation as a result of the injury crisis, with Casillas expected to be the goalkeeper, the back four to include Carvajal, Rapahel Varane, Sergio Ramos and Fabio Coentrao. The midfield to consist of Isco at the right, Toni Kroos and Illaramendi at the centre and James Rodriguez at the left. And finally Javier Hernandez and Cristiano Ronaldo as centre forwards.