Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid meet in LaLiga this weekend (stream live on ESPN+ on Sunday, 3 p.m. ET, US Only) as the local rivals, separated by five miles and just a handful of city districts, reprise their eternal derby duel once again.
While the maiden Madrid derby of this campaign may have been sprung on them early, both form and history is most definitely on Real’s side. Indeed, Carlo Ancelotti’s imperious team go into the game as both reigning Spanish champions and early league leaders, having come flying out of the traps with five wins from their first five league games and eight from eight in all competitions.
Prior to Sunday’s fixture there have been 170 league meetings between the two clubs with Real winning 90 games to Atleti’s 40 and the same amount (40) ending in a draw. A combined total of 513 goals have been scored by the sides with the former comfortably outscoring the latter by 295 to 218.
Taking all competitions into account, Cristiano Ronaldo has scored more goals in the Madrid derby than any other player, with 25 in just 35 games. Indeed, the next six players on the list all played for Real with Paco Campos providing Atleti’s highest entry at joint-sixth thanks to the 12 goals he scored against Los Blancos during the 1940s.
The latest clash is set to close the round of games in LaLiga this weekend and in order to wet your whistle just a little further, we’ve drummed up a choice selection of the best Madrid derby moments from one of Spain’s most intense and passionate fixtures.
1. Raul scores first Madrid derby goal, 1992
Raul Gonzalez will forever go down as a true giant in Real Madrid folklore (with his 323 goals in 741 games third only to Ronaldo and Karim Benzema), but it’s worth noting that the legendary striker actually opened his Madrid derby account by scoring AGAINST Los Blancos.
The year was 1992 and having come through the academy at Atleti, the 14-year-old further staked his claim as one to watch by finding the net in a youth game against their bitterly despised local rivals. However, just a few months later Raul was released and allowed to join Real after Atletico president Jesus Gil decided to gut the club’s youth team in order to save money.
Raúl González, leyenda de Real Madrid, vistiendo la camiseta del Atlético de Madrid de joven 😮 pic.twitter.com/x0w66Qwa5d
— SoyReferee (@SoyReferee) December 13, 2016
Skip forward a few years, and that decision promptly came back to haunt Gil when Raul, in his first full season as a Real regular, scored three goals in two league ties against Atleti in 1996-97 as Fabio Capello’s side were crowned LaLiga champions for the 27th time, while Los Colchoneros washed up a distant fifth.
2. Real’s star-studded Galacticos run riot, 2003
Atletico suffered the ignominy of dropping down into the second division for two seasons between 2000 and 2002, meaning that El Derbi games against Real were off the cards.
After winning promotion back to LaLiga for the 2002-03 season, the first derby reunion between Atletico and Real ended in a respectable 2-2 draw at the Bernabeu. However, after taking a ominously stacked team to the Vicente Calderon the following June, Real’s Galacticos inflicted a humbling 4-0 defeat on their crosstown rivals in front of their own fans.
Real’s team was positively oozing with talent as Iker Casillas, Roberto Carlos, Michel Salgado, Fernando Hierro, Claude Makelele, Guti, Ivan Helguera, Luis Figo, Zinedine Zidane, Ronaldo and Raul (the latter two both scored two goals apiece) combined to dazzle a shell-shocked Atletico side that featured a young Fernando Torres.
3. Atletico win the Copa del Rey, 2013
With Atletico seeing their fortunes slip somewhat over the cusp of the 2010s, the arrival of Diego Simeone as head coach in December 2011 quickly saw them reestablish themselves as a force to be reckoned with in both Spanish and European football.
After finishing seventh the previous season, Simeone oversaw an improved fifth-placed finish in LaLiga during his first half-season in charge at the Vicente Calderon, but more importantly also ensured that the campaign ended with silverware by beating Athletic Club in the Europa League final.
Success continued into Simeone’s first full season in charge as the Argentine boss picked up the first domestic trophy of his tenure by corralling Atleti to their 10th Copa del Rey title and first since 1995-96. Just to cap it all off, the Rojiblancos were able to hoist the trophy aloft after beating Real Madrid 2-1 at the Bernabeu in the final.
4. Atletico end LaLiga derby drought, 2013
Before Atletico faced Real in the LaLiga derby of September 2013, the former had endured 14 long years of hardship without managing to win a single league game against their neighbours.
Indeed, 23 matches spanning 12 seasons had passed since Atletico last managed to claim the spoils thanks to a 3-1 win at the Bernabeu in 1999. Something had to change and that change once again proved to be the hiring of the pugnacious and charismatic Simeone.
Following on from the triumph in the previous season’s Copa del Rey, it took Simeone one league game to break the ancient hex as his dogged side tussled to a 1-0 win at the Bernabeu (with Diego Costa grabbing the vital goal just 11 minutes in) in his first league derby in charge of the Colchoneros.
5. UCL final heads to thrilling conclusion, 2014
The climax of the 2013-14 Champions League marked the first time in history that two sides from the same city had come head to head in the final.
The game itself was fairly mundane for the first 93 minutes with grizzled centre-back Diego Godin putting Atletico 1-0 up in the first half and then filing back into the heart of Simeone’s red and white striped defensive barricade in a bid to keep Real at bay until the final whistle.
🗣️ “I told myself, ‘It can’t end like this.'”
2⃣ Sergio Ramos added to his crucial goals against Bayern in the semi-finals, forcing extra time with a last-gasp equaliser in Lisbon against rivals Atlético. ‘La Décima’ would become reality 🏆@SergioRamos | @realmadriden | #UCL pic.twitter.com/sGC7BMlNgT
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) March 24, 2021
The plan looked to have worked as Los Blancos — who were eagerly chasing “La Decima” [their 10th European Cup/UCL title] — laid siege to the Atletico goal without making any significant inroads. That was until the final second of regulation injury time when a towering header from Sergio Ramos sent the final into extra time.
Ramos’ ridiculously dramatic equaliser duly lit a rocket under Real who, fuelled by a heady mix of adrenaline and manifest destiny, continued to erode their opponents’ once staunch resolve. Sure enough, a further three-goal flush put paid to Simeone’s charges in extra time as Real ran out 4-1 winners in Lisbon and thus claimed their historic title.
6. Cristiano Ronaldo’s last Madrid derby goal, 2018
Ronaldo has faced Atletico more times than any other club during his career, having played against the Colchoneros on 35 occasions. Indeed, the Portuguese superstar has proved something of a scourge for his old Madrid derby adversaries having also managed to score an impressive 25 goals, including four hat tricks, while also pitching in with nine assists.
For the record, the next most frequent opponent faced by Ronaldo is Barcelona, whom he has played against 34 times to date, scoring 20 goals.
The last goal Ronaldo ever scored against Atletico during his incredibly successful stint in the Spanish capital came in April 2018: a 1-1 draw at the Bernabeu in which he opened the scoring only for Antoine Griezmann to restore parity just four minutes later.