Atlético Madrid v Real Madrid: which players make our combined XI?

Looking forward to Saturday’s derby at the Vicente Calderón, Sid Lowe rates the two clubs’ likely starting teams based on current form and picks his combined XI
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Atlético Madrid (4-4-2)

Miguel-Ángel Moyá Was one of two goalkeepers signed by Atlético in the summer and excepted to be second choice behind Jan Oblak but convinced Diego Simeone from the start. 8/10

Juanfran Began his career at Real Madrid as a right-winger; league champion with Atlético as a right-back. Superb, confident start to the season. 8

Diego Godín Scored the goal that won Atlético the league and the goal that almost won them the Champions League. Clever, aggressive leader of the defence. 8

José Giménez Young, fast, aggressive and getting opportunities now: has a great future. 7

Guilherme Siqueira Usually played ahead of Ansaldi and finding his feet now after an uneasy start – including in the Supercopa at the Bernabéu, where Bale ran at him repeatedly. 6

Arda Turan The boot. The beard. The brilliance. When he threw his boot at the linesman, it was a rare glimpse of an Arda who was not completely in control for once. 7

Gabi For the first time, the club captain is not an automatic first choice but is likely to start the derby. 7

Tiago You don’t notice him until he’s not there. Intelligent, well-positioned, and rarely makes mistakes. 7

Koke Still normally lines up in a narrow role to the left of the central midfield positions but usually comes into the middle from where he creates. Vision, passing and touch. 7

Antoine Griezmann Adapting to a new, more central role to which recent weeks have suggested he is ideally suited. Fast, skilful and a fine finisher. 9

Mario Mandzukic Provides a reference point in the penalty area that is different from the threat Diego Costa posed last season. Goals return suggests it is working. 7

Real Madrid (4-3-3)

Iker Casillas Back in the team and back in decent form, despite the summer arrival of Keylor Navas. He’s been called upon relatively rarely, mind you. 6/10

Dani Carvajal For much of last season he alternated with Álvaro Arbeloa, but Carvajal is now definitively first choice. Vital going forward, reliable at the back. 8

Raphaël Varane Third-choice Real Madrid centre-back who could still claim to be better than the two men ahead of him and is certainly in better form. Injuries or suspensions to Ramos or Pepe give him opportunities. Elegant and extraordinarily fast. 8

Nacho Likely to play because of injury to Ramos and the suspension of Marcelo (against which Real will appeal). Always reliable 6

Álvaro Arbeloa Has played only occasionally this season but will play against the team he supported as a kid. 7

Sami Khedira Injury to James Rodríguez gives the German, whose contract is up at the end of the season, a rare opportunity to play. 5

Isco Playing regularly because of Modric’s injury, Isco has been brilliant, adding work, discipline and positioning to his extraordinary skill. Irreplaceable now. 9

Toni Kroos Playing as a pivot for the first time in his career, Kroos has been a revelation, dominating smoothly. More passes than anyone else in Spain. 9

Gareth Bale Sure, there have been some whistles – far fewer than is often stated – and doubts over his fit within the collective functioning of the team, but decisive time and again. 8

Cristiano Ronaldo Back from a two-game suspension, his very recent form has dipped but still the standout star with barely believable stats. On that very recent form, the temptation was to leave Ronaldo out. But what kind of idiot leaves Ronaldo out? 9

Karim Benzema Wears No9, should wear No10. Cool, classy and the ideal complement for Ronaldo and Bale. Unquestioned at last. 9

This, then, is our combined XI, based on form going into Saturday afternoon’s derby (updated with Marcelo’s suspension and Ramos’ injury).

Our combined Real and Atlético Madrid XI.
Our combined Real and Atlético Madrid XI. Photograph: Graphic


Sid Lowe

The GuardianTramp

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