Real scoring streak facing tough Atletico test in derby
ABS-CBN Sports on Apr 07, 2017 10:07 AM
Real Madrid's James Rodriguez celebrates after scoring the opening goal against Leganes during a Spanish La Liga soccer match between Leganes and Real Madrid at the Butarque stadium in Madrid, Wednesday, April 5, 2017. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)
TALES AZZONI, AP Sports Writer
MADRID (AP) — Real Madrid has won its last five games.
Atletico Madrid has won its last five games.
Something has to give in their derby at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium on Saturday.
"This is the perfect moment to play this match," Atletico defender Filipe Luis says.
The stakes are big for both.
Real leads La Liga and is in pursuit of its first Spanish league title since 2012. It has a two-point lead over Barcelona, which plays at Malaga later in the day.
Atletico is third but 10 points off the lead after 30 matches. It is virtually out of title contention but has only a three-point edge on fourth-placed Sevilla. Third place automatically secures a spot in the Champions League next season, while the fourth-place club has to go through a playoff.
Atletico is enjoying its best moment of the season.
Its recent resurgence can be attributed in great part to the considerable improvement of the defense, which is formidable again after up-and-down performances this season.
It enters the derby with the league's best defense along with Villarreal. The teams have conceded only 23 goals.
"We have a lot of confidence," adds Filipe Luis, who has scored in the last two matches.
Real doesn't have a confidence problem, especially on attack. It has gone 51 straight games scoring at least one goal per match.
Bayern Munich holds the Europe record of 61 straight games with at least a goal, from March 2013 to April 2014.
The last time Madrid failed to score was in April, in a 0-0 draw at Manchester City in the Champions League semifinals.
"This team can cause damage to a rival at any moment," Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane says. "We've been doing well since the start of the season."
Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, and Karim Benzema lead the attack, but 16 other players have also scored for Zidane's team. Ronaldo has 23 Spanish league goals and 35 in total for Madrid and Portugal.
Ronaldo, Bale, and Benzema will be fully rested after being left out of the win at Leganes on Wednesday.
In the last Madrid derby, Madrid won 3-0 at Vicente Calderon Stadium.
Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni