Preview: Real Madrid vs Atletico

With a 3-1 lead heading into the second leg of the Copa del Rey quarterfinals against Atletico Madrid, Real Madrid hope to clinch a berth in the next round with a win at the Vicente Calderon. 

After the Copa draw paired Real Madrid with Atletico, surely the Whites did not expect to visit the Vicente Calderon with a 3-1 lead after the first leg of the tie. But even when holding the upper hand, the Madridistas have little room for error come kick-off on Thursday.

Similar to last week, Jose Mourinho gave no hints as to who he might line up in the starting eleven. What is certain, however, is that the same twenty players who suited up over the weekend in Almeria will be present and available against the red-whites. As it is difficult to guess the lineup, it does not seem wrong to bet on Gago and Benzema as news in the eleven. The Argentine to complete the rotations and the French for failing to declare the civil war; to delay it maybe.

Carvalho's return to central defense and Özil or Granero doubt in the playmaker position draw a picture that gives no respite to Di Maria who any day leaves the match with oxygen mask.

Quique Sanchez Flores has asked his men to "never give up. We need to play enough fury to turn the tie around." Atletico know coming back from a two goal deficit won't be easy, but their head coach has plenty of faith in his team and its fans. "We need to remain hopeful until the very last second," added Flores.

To accomplish the difficult task at hand, Atletico will be without Aguero, Mario Suarez and Jorge Pulido, all of whom are injured, as well as Antonio Lopez, who will serve his one-match ban. Koke, Borja Gonzalez and Alberto Perea have all been called up to fill in.

The question of red-whites focuses on the starter position of Tiago and Fran Mérida. The Portuguese is tired and Catalan pop. The rest are counted beans; a great keeper (De Gea), two notable extremes (Juanfran and Reyes) and a striker Forlan, who is lethal when sitting in physical and spiritual coincidence that fails to appear recently.

Reviewed the contenders and the players, it is the turn of the Vicente Calderon. After 19 derbies without a win, the fans of Atletico feels that the twenty needs to go up. And it should be there. The first objective is to exploit the initial attack to score a goal and then we'll see as the sun rises. Or the moon.

No matter what direction you look in, history favors Real Madrid. On one side, Atletico haven't defeated the Whites since 30 October 1999. On another, the Madridistas have won 10 of 15 Copa del Rey ties against their cross-town rival. But if that's not enough, Real Madrid have won all five ties after winning the first leg 3-1.

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