It’s Zidane against Simeone, Costa against Ramos, and Bale against the Bernabeu. Not to mention the favourites to win the Champions League against the favourites to win the Europa League.
Real Madrid vs Atletico Madrid will not decide the Spanish title this year but there is still plenty resting on Sunday’s game.
Sportsmail looks ahead to the Madrid derby.
Zinedine Zidane’s Real Madrid host rivals Atletico Madrid on Sunday afternoon in the league
Bale’s big chance
For Madrid the game is an irrelevance in terms of the league table. They are 16 points clear of fifth placed Villarreal so there is no danger of them not making the Champions League.
And this year the fourth-placed team will not have to play an extra qualifier so there is no real incentive to finish above Valencia. Such details will only become relevant if they go out of the Champions League.
But there are individual players for whom the match is massive. Those not currently in the Champions League starting XI will want a big performance to try to change that situation. Gareth Bale cut a slightly forlorn figure on the bench in Turin barely flinching as Rocket Ronnie’s bicycle kick flew past Gianluigi Buffon.
But he has already inquired about where next season’s pre-season tour will be and still has absolutely no intention of forcing his way out of the club. Scoring the goals that see Real Madrid beat Atletico Madrid will be the best way to play his way back into the affections of the Santiago Bernabeu and remind the club how important he can still be.
Gareth Bale has a chance to remind the club how important he can still be against Atletico
Ramos and Costa Old Friends Reunited
This is the first chance for long-time sparring partners Sergio Ramos and Diego Costa to get reacquainted. They are close pals when Spain meet up.
When they meet in Madrid derbies they are just as close – Ramos never leaving Costa’s side and Costa occasionally looking to leave something on Ramos.
The Madrid defender is ruled out of next week’s Champions League second leg against Juventus so there is no chance he will be rested. Costa will be waiting for him, snarling snappy tackles included.
‘He’s an animal’ said Diego Simeone on Thursday night. That world is a compliment in Spanish footballspeak. ‘It was his best game since he came back to us.’
Alongside him Griezmann applied the lighter touch as Atletico made quick work of Sporting Lisbon’s defence. Their ability to unlock Madrid defence will go a long way to deciding the game.
Long-time sparring partners Sergio Ramos and Diego Costa (pictured) can get reacquainted
There will be mixed sentiments for Real Madrid if they win Sunday’s game. It will take them to within a point of Atletico Madrid in the table. But it could also wash away the last remains of the title race.
Barcelona beat Leganes on Saturday and if Real Madrid win the derby there will be 12 points between Barca and Atletico with seven games left. It will do Barcelona a favour.
They want the title over as soon as possible so they can start resting their tired superstars Sergio Busquets, Lionel Messi and company. The quicker they win the league the sooner they can regain freshness for the Champions League – that doesn’t suit Real Madrid at all.
The curse of the Europa League is that teams often have two fewer days to prepare for games if they are facing a Champions League side. That will be the case on Sunday.
Simeone said it will not be an excuse when he spoke after the win over Sporting. He said: ‘We want to close the gap on Barca and we will hold nothing back. Madrid having two more days rest is not an excuse for us.’
Because both sides won their first legs so convincingly in Europe in the week neither need be too sidetracked by next week’s second leg.
Diego Simeone said Real having more days to rest will not be an excuse after win over Sporting
Exactly a year ago on Sunday the teams played out a 1-1 draw with Griezmann and Pepe on the scoresheet.
The previous season was Zidane’s first derby meeting as a coach with Simeone. Atletico won 1-0 and Real Madrid look demotivated and completely disorganised.
Many people said at the time that new young coach Zidane was clueless and would be lucky to see out the season. Look how that turned out.
A win for Zidane’s side would move them to within a point of second-placed Atletico