Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid are both undefeated La Liga squads through the seasons first six games: Atlético is a perfect 6-0-0 while Real is 5-1-0. The two battle this weekend in what is expected to be one of the most exciting clashes of the young season.
Outside of Barcelona, there are no better clubs in La Liga than the two Madrid based clubs. On paper, Atlético are the favorites heading into this match. Their unblemished record combined with their 13 goal differential gives them the edge over Real’s slightly less-convincing record and eight goal differential. However, an argument can easily be made that Atlético have had a much more favorable schedule to begin the season than Real.
Atlético’s wins have come against six non top-ten clubs. Real has had a somewhat more competitive balance to their early goings; while four of their victories have come against non top-ten clubs (2-1 Real Betis, 0-1 Granada, 4-1 Getafe and 1-2 Elche) they beat 6th placed and a much improved Athletic Bilbao 3-1 and against fourth placed Villareal, they settled for a 2-2 draw.
Real Madrid have also been getting accustomed to a new squad — they sold one of their most important players in Mesut Özil to Arsenal and brought in Tottenham Hotspur star Gareth Bale on the richest deal in football history. Bale has played just one league match and one Champions League match, but missed the last league match due to a muscle injury. He and Cristiano Ronaldo haven’t yet made what could be the most formidable attack in football work yet, but it’s not expected to take long. Bale is expected back for Saturday’s match against Atlético, which could go a long way in handing the undefeated club their first loss of the season.
Atlético have been paced by impressive play early by 24-year-old Brazilian forward Diego Costa. Costa has seven goals in the early going, tied with Lionel Messi of Barcelona for tops in the league. He, Raúl Garcia and Tiago Mendes have formed an impressive offensive attack — one with cohesiveness and familiarity amongst the core of the team.
Real have, for quite some time, been the only club capable of giving Barcelona a run for their money. Atlético seem to have joined that group, but the two clubs from Madrid may only hurt each other’s chances of winning the league this season. However, this weekends match will reveal a lot about Atlético and whether or not they can keep pace with Real, not to mention Barcelona. Unfortunately for Atlético, Real are too strong a club and are just coming into form after an irresolute start to their season. This will be a match you don’t want to miss, but Real could very well run away with it before Atlético has the chance to do anything about it.