Barcelona: Atletico Madrid meet bitter rivals Real Madrid for the first local derby at their Wanda Metropolitano stadium on Saturday and both sides may need to look for inspiration beyond their usual talismans Cristiano Ronaldo and Antoine Griezmann.
Real’s Ronaldo has made a habit of scoring against Atletico, striking hat-tricks against Diego Simeone’s side in La Liga and the Champions League last season.
Yet he has only managed to score once in the domestic league this campaign, the worst start Ronaldo, who was crowned the best soccer player in the world for the second year running last month, has made to a season with Real.
Griezmann, meanwhile, has scored only two league goals and has not found the net for his club in any competition since converting a penalty against Chelsea on Sept. 27.
He has failed to score in the last 596 minutes despite taking 20 shots at goal.
The France international is seemingly no longer indispensable to his coach Simeone, who has hauled him off twice in league games this season when his side were drawing 0-0.
Griezmann has scored four times against Real and said he was not feeling under any pressure despite his goal drought.
“Scoring goals is what we do and what we know how to do. I‘m not worried, I‘m happy with the way I‘m playing and the ball will go in soon enough,” he told La Liga’s official website.
The drop in form of the usually prolific forwards has had knock on effects for Atletico and Real, who enter the derby locked together on 23 points, eight adrift of Liga leaders Barcelona and four back from a resurgent Valencia, who are second.
Atletico, who are also on the brink of an early exit from the Champions League, are suffering from a goalscoring crisis across the squad with midfielder Thomas Partey and forward Angel Correa their surprise top marksmen with four goals apiece in all competitions.
“It’s different to previous years, we are playing at a new stadium, we’re struggling to score and get wins but we’re playing well defensively and are just lacking some luck up front,” Griezmann added.
Barcelona, who are looking to continue their remarkable run of 10 wins from 11 league games, will also be in the Spanish capital on Saturday to face Leganes.
Valencia, who lead the scoring charts alongside Barca with 30 goals, visit Espanyol hoping to stay in touch with the leaders before hosting the Catalans in a top of the table clash the following weekend....