Madrid Derby preview: Real’s young Brazilian stars prepare to dazzle against resurgent rivals

This weekend’s Madrid Derby promises to be a thrilling showing between two of the best sides in La Liga. And, lighting up Sunday’s game will likely be a pair of Samba stars in the Real attack.

On Saturday (25 February, 5:30pm), Real Madrid host Atletico in a clash between city rivals that is a must-win fixture for both teams. Additionally, there is good news for UK football fans; ITV will broadcast the Madrid Derby live, for free.

Coming off a stunning 5-2 win at Liverpool in the Champions League, Los Blancos will be brimming with confidence for their battle with Atleti. At the centre of their win at Anfield was star winger, Vinicius Jr.

The 22-year-old has been a key figure in Carlo Ancelotti’s side throughout the 2022/23 season. Domestically, he has registered seven goals and four assists from 21 appearances, continually tormenting La Liga defenders.

But it is not just his end product that makes Vinicius Jr stand out.

Star quality: Vinicius Jr is La Liga’s best dribbler

The Brazilian is undoubtedly the best dribbler in Spain, boasting the stats to back it up. Per La Liga, “Vini” has completed an incredible 61 dribbles so far in 2022/23, the most in the division.

This is significantly more than his closest rival, RC Celta’s Javi Galan, who only has 38 by comparison.

Atletico will thus have their hands full when they visit the Bernabeu. However, they are as good a side as any when it comes to thwarting top attackers. Diego Simeone’s men have made 252 tackles this season – more than any other side.

Additionally, they break up play more frequently than other teams, boasting a staggering 197 interceptions.

Unfortunately, though, Vinicius Jr is not the only star that Los Rojiblancos will have to contain. His compatriot, Rodrygo, is having a breakout year himself.

Could Rodrygo be a decisive player in the Madrid Derby?

The  Brazilian has become a regular starter during the 2022/23 campaign. Impressively, Rodrygo has also already surpassed his goal contribution tally from last season.

Real’s latest forward talent has achieved this despite having played fewer games (so far) than in 2021/22, too. After showing he can pop up in big moments during last season’s Champions League run, can Rodrygo help Real on Saturday?

Los Blancos will certainly hope so. As a result of being eight points behind leaders Barcelona, Real cannot afford to slip up. They need to keep winning so they can attempt to close the gap to their rivals.

Similarly, Atletico Madrid find themselves gripped in a race for the Champions League spots. They have enjoyed an upturn in form, though.

Atletico: Rojiblancos return to form

Diego Simeone has inspired a resurgence from his side in 2023. Since the World Cup, Atleti have won five of their eight league games, including three in their last four.

This has led them to fourth in the table, where a win could put Atletico into third. Contrastingly, defeat to their city foes may see Atleti slide out of the UCL spots. Therefore, they cannot afford to drop points here, either.

The endless narratives surrounding this pivotal game between the sides from Spain’s capital should create a thrilling Madrid Derby. So, you will be glad to hear that it is free to air in the UK.

Madrid Derby is free to air on ITV

As one of many ways to watch La Liga in 2022/23, ITV is showing this weekend’s Madrid Derby. You can watch Real Madrid v Atletico Madrid live on ITV4 on Saturday 25 February. As ITV 4 is a Freeview channel, this huge clash is available to watch at zero cost.  

Join them for kick-off at 5:30pm to witness two European giants go head-to-head for valuable points – and city bragging rights.

Featured image credit: La Liga