Picking a Combined Atletico Madrid-Real Madrid XI

Rik SharmaFeatured ColumnistMarch 1, 2014

Picking a Combined Atletico Madrid-Real Madrid XI

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    Atletico will try and avoid a repeat of the Copa.
    Atletico will try and avoid a repeat of the Copa.Andres Kudacki/Associated Press

    On Sunday night we will be treated to "El Derbi madrileno", also known as the Madrid derby.

    Atletico are stronger than ever this season and have already said that they will be treating this match like a cup final, as they bid to stay in the La Liga title race.

    Carlo Ancelotti's side, meanwhile, will be confident after beating Diego Simeone's outfit in both legs in the Copa del Rey semi-finals.

    Both teams feature some exceptional talent but who makes our composite XI?

Goalkeeper: We're Spoilt for Choice but Courtois Gets the Nod

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    Safe hands: Thibaut Courtois edges out his Madrid rivals.
    Safe hands: Thibaut Courtois edges out his Madrid rivals.Denis Doyle/Getty Images

    Thibaut Courtois gets the nod, ahead of the excellent Diego Lopez and Iker Casillas.

    In this trio, we have three of the best goalkeepers out there at the moment.

    Courtois actually made a mistake against Osasuna last time out, but he is an exceptional talent and will be keen to get back to his usual standards.

    All of them are splendid goalkeepers and choosing between them is a tough task.

    But Carlo Ancelotti faced a similar decision at the start of the season and decided to use Lopez in La Liga and Casillas in the cups.

    We're going to go with Atletico's undisputed first choice for all competitions, the brilliant Belgian.

Right-Back: Juanfran Edges out His Rivals

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    Juanfran is a sturdy, trustworthy full-back.
    Juanfran is a sturdy, trustworthy full-back.Alvaro Barrientos/Associated Press

    Again, there are two good Madrid options to Atletico's one, but it's Simeone's man who makes the cut.

    Juanfran is solid, reliable and trustworthy. He's the sort of right-back Jose Mourinho would love, a Paulo Ferreira-esque figure who gives you a seven out of 10 performance at the bare minimum.

    Alvaro Arbeloa and Daniel Carvajal are also good players, but the former resorted to cynical, unpleasant tactics to stop Diego Costa last time out.

Centre-Backs: Madrid Duo Will Defend the Fort

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    Danger: Sergio Ramos and Pepe are not to be trifled with.
    Danger: Sergio Ramos and Pepe are not to be trifled with.Daniel Ochoa de Olza/Associated Press

    Speaking of cynical and unpleasant...Real Madrid do the double over Atletico here. We're opting for Pepe and Sergio Ramos.

    Arguably the least affable double-act ever to exist. The Spanish red card magnet Ramos, paired with his Real partner in crime, the Portuguese ball of unfettered malevolence.

    Miranda and Diego Godin are strong players too and given that Atletico have conceded seven less goals than Real in La Liga this season, they can argue for their inclusion.

    It's a difficult choice again and both pairs complement their partner well, so we don't want to mix and match.

Left-Back: Marcelo Makes It a Brazil and Madrid Double

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    First-choice: Marcelo is selected for club and country.
    First-choice: Marcelo is selected for club and country.Associated Press

    Marcelo gets the nod over Emiliano Insua for sure, but if Filipe Luis hadn't spent a few weeks out injured it would be a close call.

    Brazil manager Luiz Felipe Scolari usually chooses the Real star rather than his namesake to fill the slot for the national team, but the latter is the better defender.

    On Saturday, given that Filipe's only appearance after injury so far was last week's Osasuna mauling, Marcelo is likely to be the better pick this weekend.

Midfield: Koke, Modric and Alonso Are Our Intrepid Trio

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    Koke adds some fizz to the midfield mixer.
    Koke adds some fizz to the midfield mixer.Associated Press

    We're going 4-3-3 so there's a strong trio in here. The ones who make the cut are Real's Luka Modric and Xabi Alonso, and Atletico's Koke.

    We'll explain why, but you know how good these three are already and it will be just as interesting to see who didn't make it.

    Modric is in the form of his life, running games and making those who doubted him at the start of his Madrid career eat humble pie.

    Xabi Alonso is the same, careful, confident ball player he ever was and, along with Modric, will sit deeper.

    Koke, meanwhile, is the gem in Atletico's midfield. A fine passer of the ball and energetic, he will be a pain for Ancelotti's side to deal with on Sunday.

    Hardworking duo, former Chelsea man Tiago and captain Gabi, add clout to the Atletico midfield and help Simeone execute his game plan well but individually they don't have the sheer talent of these three.

    Angel di Maria and Asier Illarramendi miss out for Madrid. Both are strong options and would certainly make our bench.

    The former is not a natural central midfielder but thus far has performed well there.

Strikers: Bale, Ronaldo and Costa Would Be Simply Incredible

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    Close call: Gareth Bale beats Jese to a place.
    Close call: Gareth Bale beats Jese to a place.Associated Press

    What a front line this would be. On the right, Gareth Bale. The left, Cristiano Ronaldo, and in the middle, Diego Costa. The three would be free to swap positions to their hearts' content.

    They are three of the highest-rated players in world football and their inclusion does not need justification.

    Jese is unfortunate to miss out; the youngster has made a real impact of late and some may have given him the nod above Gareth Bale.

    Karim Benzema too, is enjoying his best spell for some time.

Who's on the Bench?

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    Man for the job: Carlo Ancelotti knows how to win.
    Man for the job: Carlo Ancelotti knows how to win.Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

    In charge? We'll take Carlo Ancelotti. Diego Simeone has arguably done the more impressive job with his limited funds, but Ancelotti is a born winner and would know how to manage such a talented team.

    Substitutes: Lopez, Godin, Filipe Luis, Illarramendi, Di Maria, Raul Garcia, Benzema.