Real Madrid ‘up for the fight’ in derby with Atlético, says Julen Lopetegui

• Real Madrid looking to bounce back after Sevilla defeat
• Marcelo and Isco missing for European champions

Julen Lopetegui has said Real Madrid will be “up for the fight” when they take on their city rivals Atlético in La Liga on Saturday. Real suffered a humiliating 3-0 defeat against Sevilla on Wednesday and are desperate to bounce back against Diego Simeone’s team, who beat them on penalties in the European Super Cup in August.

Lopetegui has had to defend his record against bigger clubs after a draw against Athletic Bilbao, seen as one of the tougher away games of the season, the defeat against Sevilla and that loss to Atlético in August. Real are still joint top with Barcelona with 13 points after six games but Atlético are now only two behind the leaders.

“We cannot look for any excuse; the energy and motivation will ensure we put in a good performance,” Lopetegui said on Friday. “I expect the game will be balanced, tough and demanding and that my team will be up for the fight. We’re up against a huge rival and of course I expect my team to put in a huge performance.”

Wednesday’s defeat at the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán was the first time Real have conceded three goals in a first half since 2003 but Lopetegui dismissed the suggestion his side have struggled against top opposition, pointing to the 3-0 win over Roma in the Champions League.

“You cannot call the game against Roma a minor game and I don’t think that’s fair. We are prepared to beat any team, without any doubt,” he said. “I’m happy with how the team is performing even though you will always have good and bad moments. I have no doubts about how the team is working or their attitude. We are in a good position in the league and we have made a good start in the Champions League.”

Lopetegui will be without their defender Marcelo, whose calf injury left the team playing the final stage of the game at Sevilla with 10 men after using their three substitutes, while Isco is recovering from an appendicitis operation.

Real will also have one day’s rest less going into the derby than Atlético, who have bounced back from a poor start to the campaign by recording back-to-back wins over Getafe and Huesca. They have not lost a league game at the Bernabéu since December 2012.

Simeone said: “I don’t evaluate an opponent based on the last game they played. I value them for their characteristics and potential. We know we’re going to face one of the best teams in the world. It will be a tough match, like all the games we play against Madrid, and we will have to seize control of it.”


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