Real Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane has said that cross-town neighbours Atletico Madrid are favourites to win La Liga this season.
Madrid play host to unbeaten league leaders Atleti at Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano in Saturday’s derby, with Diego Simeone’s visitors holding a one-point advantage over Real Sociedad at the top of the table.
Defending champions Real are six points off the pace and Zidane believes Atletico are in the box seat to claim their first league crown since 2013-14.
Asked if Atletico are favourites for La Liga glory, Zidane told reporters on Friday: “Yes, for sure.
“That’s what they’re showing on the pitch. They’re doing things well and competing. They’ve always been competitive and they’re first right now.
“What interests us is what we’re going to do. It’ll be a good game of football and one that fans have marked in the diaries and one that the players want to play.
“What we want in each match is to show what team we are, without thinking about whether we’ll win the league title. We want to win each match. We’re competitive.”
Atletico have failed to win in their last eight La Liga games against Real – drawing five matches and losing three – after winning four of the previous six against their rivals in the competition.
But Atletico have won their last seven league games, keeping a clean sheet in six matches – last winning eight or more in a row in the competition in March-April 2014.
After winning his first Liga game as coach against Atletico’s Simeone in February 2016, Madrid boss Zidane is unbeaten in his last six games against the Argentine in the league.
“As usual we are always talking about finals, every game is a final here,” Zidane added. “I see it as another opportunity to show what we are about as a team.
“We know where we are. What we want is to play a great football match, just as we did the other day.”
Asked about player fatigue amid this season’s congested schedule, Zidane replied: “Each game is different and has its history.
“It is true that we have not made many changes in these [last] two games, but it is a particular moment.
“Tomorrow there is another game and there may be five changes, maybe not. It depends on each game.”