MADRID - Atlético Madrid will be desperate to beat runaway leaders Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabéu on Sunday to revive their bid for a second consecutive Spanish league title.
Real are currently cruising in top spot, eight points ahead of second-placed Sevilla and 10 above Atlético in fourth, albeit having played a game more than those two rivals.
Diego Simeone's Atléti team got a morale boost on Tuesday by jumping from last place to second in Champions League Group B with a 3-1 win at Porto to qualify for the knockout phase. However, they will need to be on top form to stop Real, with Carlo Ancelotti's team looking for their 10th straight win in all competitions.
Even without Karim Benzema, absent with a hamstring injury, Real comfortably swatted aside Inter Milan 2-0 on Tuesday. They are unbeaten in the Champions League and LaLiga since losing 2-1 to Espanyol on Oct. 3. While the France striker's availability for the derby is still in question, Atlético could themselves be without their top scorer, Luis Suárez, who came off early in the Porto game with an undisclosed injury and has not trained since.
With Suárez and Benzema absent, the focus will be on Atléti's Antoine Griezmann and Real's Vinícius Jr, who have both stood out with their recent performances. The Frenchman has two goals and two assists in the last two Atlético wins, while the Brazilian youngster has netted 10 times — two behind Benzema in the race to be LaLiga top scorer.
#Vinicius ' amazing goal vs Real Sociedad
— (@zi_53) December 9, 2021
Far off the pace are Barcelona, licking their wounds after losing 3-0 at Bayern Munich in the Champions League on Wednesday and failing to reach the knockout stages of Europe's elite club competition for the first time since the 2004-05 campaign. They stand seventh in the table, six points off the top four, before traveling north to face Osasuna on Sunday.
(Reporting by Fernando Kallas; Editing by Ken Ferris)