Real takes on Atletico as league lead shrinks

Real takes on Atletico as league lead shrinks

MADRID - The Associated Press
Real takes on Atletico as league lead shrinks

AFP photo

With its lead over Barcelona crumbling, league pacesetter Real Madrid faces a crucial Spanish capital derby at an Atletico Madrid eager to break a run of 22 games without a victory over its crosstown rivals tonight. 

Three draws in its last five games have cut Madrid’s once commanding advantage of 10 points down to four, and Barcelona has a shot at pulling even closer when it was scheduled to play at home against Getafe. 

Madrid’s visit to Vicente Calderon stadium is even more important with it set to travel to Barcelona in less than two weeks.

“The gap with Barcelona has been reduced, but now we just have to keep moving forward,” said Madrid captain Iker Casillas. “The derby will be a special match. After so long without beating us, for them it will also be a vital game.” “Real Madrid can lose this league because mathematically it isn’t over. Each match is a final.” 

Atletico hasn’t beaten Madrid since 1999, lost seven consecutive to its rival.

For Atletico to have a chance it will need to repeat Valencia’s feat on Sunday when it held Madrid’s potent attack in check for a 0-0 draw.

Jose Mourinho’s Madrid has scored a league-high 100 goals so far this season and is on pace to break the all-time league record of 107.

“We have to respect them because they are leaders and are more than 30 points above us in the standings. This is one of the best Real Madrid sides ever,” said Atletico defender Filipe Luis. “But we will be playing in front of our fans and will try to get the win. All of us dream about beating Madrid after all these years.”