talisman Cristiano Ronaldo will look to make a positive impact in the Copa Del Rey clash against Atletico Madrid. Reuters
Sitting top of the table in La Liga, looking like the team to beat in Spain, and enjoying one of the best seasons in recent memory, Atletico Madrid face another test to show they are the top dogs in the capital this year when they take on Real Madrid in the first leg of their Copa Del Rey semifinal.
Where to Watch Live
The game is scheduled for an 8 pm local time (12.30 am IST Thursday morning) start with live coverage on Ten Action and Ten HD in India. Sky Sports 1 will provide live coverage in the UK with the live streaming option HERE. Viewers in the US can tune in to Bein Sports to catch the action, while the game can also be live streamed online HERE. Viewers in the Middle East and North Africa can live stream the action HERE.
Atletico deservedly picked up three points in their Madrid Derby in the La Liga earlier this season in September, but Real manager Carlo Ancelotti believes Diego Simeone and his wards will be up against a different side, one that hasn't lost since going down to Barcelona in October.
"We'll have to be at our best and play confidently," Ancelotti said on Tuesday. "We deserved to lose against Atletico in La Liga and tomorrow it will be a different team than the one that played them in the Bernabeu. We've changed a lot because we have more confidence and another way of playing.
"It's a knockout tie and we have 180 minutes to win it. Keeping a clean sheet at home will be very important and they'll play a really intense game with reduced spaces on the pitch, so we'll have to play quickly."
Real were held to a disappointing 1-1 draw by Athletic Bilbao at the weekend, with Cristiano Ronaldo receiving his marching orders. However, the Portugal international, who will want to make an impact on his 29th birthday, will feature against Atletico in the first leg, with Ancelotti confirming his best player would start.
Gareth Bale could also start, with the Welshman, who missed the Bilbao draw through injury, included in the squad. Ancelotti will want to use every single weapon at his disposal against an Atletico side that are at the moment functioning smoother than a Ferrari.
"Atletico are perfectly organised on defence and are very good at using the break," Ancelotti added. "They have kept the same quality in their organisation but have even more confidence. I like how organised they are because they're very solid, compact and play well on the counter-attack. The derby is one of the most important matches for both clubs and a Real Madrid-Atletico is always important."
For Simeone, it will be about taking another important step towards firmly establishing themselves with the big two in Spain. Having already taken out Real Madrid in the same competition last season - a 2-1 victory in the final - Simeone will settle for another similar result over the two legs in the semis.
"Real Madrid has to go into it as the favourite, that does not mean that they will be in the game, but both teams have the same possibilities," Simeone said. "The tie is not the same as the League because they are two games, or one long match, depending on the manner of interpreting it. I'll see how it plays out and how it goes."
Arda Turan is expected to return for Atletico from injury, but striker David Villa has been ruled out after picking up a knock in the win over Real Sociedad.
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