Atletico Madrid face a nearly impossible task as they host Real Madrid for the second leg of their Copa del Rey semi-final clash.
Los Blancos hold a 3-0 lead after a dominant performance in the first leg of this matchup. In that first matchup, Madrid managed to net three goals, despite not one coming off of the golden foot of talisman Cristiano Ronaldo and not even having the services of the world's most expensive footballer in Gareth Bale.
Ronaldo is currently in the midst of a suspension in league play, but he is set to contribute in this match:
Cristiano Ronaldo has been called up by Real Madrid for the second leg of the Copa del Rey semis vs Atletico Madrid. pic.twitter.com/3BUPCVUJRK— TheCRonaldoFan (@TheCRonaldoFan) February 10, 2014
That win actually helped Madrid snap a two-match losing streak to their more lightly heralded rival. Of course, that was all part of Atletico's fantastic season. This team was cruising right along until dropping the first leg of this contest.
The 3-0 loss to Real was just the second loss for Atletico this season, and that is good for all competitions.
Atletico, however, have also dropped their only match since the setback in the first leg of the semi-final. That was a 2-0 setback to Almeria.
When: Tuesday, Feb. 11 at 3 p.m. ET/8 p.m. GMT
Where: Vicente Calderon, Madrid, Spain
TV: beIN Sports en Espanol
Live Stream: beIN Sport Play
Key Storyline: Will Atletico Madrid reestablish momentum?
Atletico Madrid recently sat atop the La Liga table. It was the first time in 18 years that they had held such an honor.
The top spot became Atletico's after the club dispatched of Real Sociedad, 4-0. Since that triumph, Atletico have lost both their matches.
La Liga after 23 games. Barcelona, Atletico Madrid & Real Madrid all tied on 57 points at the top. Amazing. pic.twitter.com/vJG9aCcAs8— thepunterspage.com (@ThePuntersPage) February 10, 2014
Some teams just can't handle prosperity. Whether that is the result of extra press getting to the heads of the players or a feeling of contentment that comes along with the feeling of accomplishment, it is tough to tell.
What isn't tough to tell is that Atletico must snap out of their current funk.
I don't think this team needs to make up the three-goal deficit to feel good about itself. That is too lofty an expectation against Real Madrid for any team.
What Atleico must do is play a quality match. This team can't lose by multiple goals at home and expect to have the confidence going forward needed to hang at the top of the La Liga table.
Prediction: Atletico Madrid 2-2 Real Madrid
I expect a solid effort from Atletico Madrid and for them to grab an early lead. Even though Real Madrid won't have to do anything except park in front of their own net, Los Blancos will see the opportunity to diminish the spirit of their rivals and fight back.
Ultimately, all of this will lead to a 2-2 standstill.