Zidane says Atletico title favourite ahead of El Derbi

Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said city rival Atletico Madrid should be classed as title favourite this season ahead of its La Liga meeting.

Zinedine Zidane...“We won the league last year and we want to defend our crown, and we’ll do that until the end.” - REUTERS

Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said city rival Atletico Madrid should be classed as title favourite this season ahead of its La Liga meeting on Saturday.

Table topper Atletico remains the league’s only unbeaten side after 10 games with 26 points from a possible 30.

Heading into the derby it sits six points ahead of fourth-placed Real having played a game fewer, and Zidane conceded that its start to the campaign means it is Diego Simeone’s side who should be considered the team to beat this term.

“Yes, definitely, they should [be considered title favourites],” Zidane told a news conference.

'Competitive outfit'

“That’s what they’re showing on the pitch. They are top of the table and they’ve always been a competitive outfit in that sense. We know them well. We want to win every game and especially this one as it’s a big game. We won the league last year and we want to defend our crown, and we’ll do that until the end.”

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The Frenchman also sung the praises of Atletico’s in-form midfielder Marcos Llorente.

The 25-year-old came through the youth setup at Madrid before joining its city rival in 2019.

“He’s not surprising me with his performances,” Zidane said.

'Top-class player'

“Llorente is a top-class player and he’s showing another facet of his game right now that he didn’t have when at Real Madrid. We always knew he was a quality player and I’m pleased to see him doing well.”

Zidane, who welcomed back captain Sergio Ramos in Wednesday’s Champions League victory over Borussia Moenchengladbach, said that midfielder Federico Valverde and fullback Dani Carvajal will also be in contention for a return to the starting team.

The champion will, however, be without attacking trio Eden Hazard, Luka Jovic and Mariano Diaz as well as midfielder Martin Odegaard.