Sandwiched between a Copa del Rey match with Barcelona and a Champions League game with Ajax, Real Madrid visits city rival Atletico Madrid on Saturday for La Liga’s 23rd matchday. It’s No. 2 Atleti against No. 3 Real. Atletico is 12-8-2 and coming off a loss to Real Betis but sit on 44 points, while Real is 13-3-6 and can move into second place with a victory as it enters the game with 42 points.
Real Madrid: Los Blancos have found a bit of form winning seven of their last eight matches, but the defense is still showing inconsistency. Before the 3-0 win over Alaves last weekend, Real had allowed five goals in the previous three matches. Going up against an Atleti team that likes to be patient in attack, Real has to limit mistakes.
Atletico Madrid: Diego Simeone’s team beat Real in the UEFA Super Cup in August and then they drew the first meeting in the league at the end of September. A loss here could put Atletico out of the title race because a Barca win would move them nine points clear. The pressure is on after that showing against Betis where Atleti managed just one shot on goal.
Should he be selected on Saturday then it will be Bale’s 19th meeting with Atletico, but his record against Real’s local rivals is by no means his best.
The former Tottenham Hotspur winger’s only goal in this fixture came in 2014, although it was an important one as he capped the end of his first season at the club by scoring in the all-Madrid Champions League final.
It remains one of Bale’s most memorable Madrid moments, although he has failed to score in each of his 17 other meetings with Atletico and Real have gone on to lose six of those.
Indeed, Bale has only tasted victory against Atletico once in nine La Liga meetings, although he is also unbeaten in his last five top-flight editions of this fixture.