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Spanish Super Cup 2014: Form Guide, Predictions for Madrid Derby 2nd Leg

Atletico's Raul Garcia, center, celebrates his goal during a Spanish Supercup first leg soccer match between Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Spain, Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)
Andres Kudacki/Associated Press
Rob BlanchetteFeatured ColumnistAugust 22, 2014

As the last moments of the Spanish Super Cup first leg were coming to a close, Real Madrid would have been forgiven for thinking they had the match won after James Rodriguez's goal in the 81st minute.

But La Liga champions Atletico Madrid are famous for their battle-hardened qualities, and Diego Simeone's side snatched a late equaliser to level the tie and take the slimmest of advantages back to the Calderon.

Friday sees the two kings of the capital city clash once more in the conclusive second leg. Here, we take a look at the two sides' most recent form and cast our predictions for the match:

Atletico Madrid v Real Madrid: Form Guide
TeamForm
Atletico MadridDWWWD
Real MadridLWWLD
WhoScored.com

 

Toni Kroos to Work Atletico Madrid

Andres Kudacki/Associated Press

Real Madrid's biggest signing of the summer may not have been Toni Kroos, but the player might turn out to be Carlo Ancelotti's cleverest piece of business.

Kroos shone at the recent World Cup where he marked his name down in history as the Germans conquered the planet.

And he was imperious in the first leg against Atletico as he showed the Spanish crowds exactly what they will be getting from him in the future. Football writer Adam Perkins highlighted an amazing statistic in regards to Kroos and his habit of being a winner:

The German international showed a great range of passing in the first match of the Super Cup and linked up well with his new Los Blancos team-mates. 

With a stunning array of forwards ahead of him, it is clear he will be an incredible weapon for Ancelotti from deep, able to unlock the door with his razor-sharp intelligence and vision.

Simeone will have to deal with Kroos at the Calderon, but it is difficult to predict how. Real will be happy to sit and wait for Atletico to push on, but this will undoubtedly lead to a chess match, rather than an explosive derby game. 

Daniel Ochoa de Olza/Associated Press

Simeone will be patient and organise his 4-4-2 to control the tempo, hoping to pick the lock of Ancelotti's team.

Kroos partnered Xabi Alonso and Luka Modric in the first match, and they will be tasked with keeping the ball as well as they did in the game at the Bernabeu. The Galacticos had an 86 percent pass success rate compared to Atleti's 59 percent.

Atletico will hope to take advantage of their home standing and turn the screw in the second leg, but Kroos can pass teams into submission, and his style is perfect for sapping the energy from a raucous home crowd. 

 

Mario Mandzukic to Be the Hero

Kerstin Joensson/Associated Press

Diego Costa fired the goals that led Atletico to the league title last term, but now, Simeone's team need a new hero, and they may have found their new king in Bavaria.

Mario Mandzukic can sometimes seem like an awkward player, but he is also blessed with a good pair of feet for a solid conventional striker, and he fits nicely into the manager's preferred 4-4-2.

Kerstin Joensson/Associated Press

The 28-year-old excelled during his time at Bayern Munich without ever receiving the plaudits he deserved. Indeed, he is not a superstar-type footballer, and this will suit the humble support of the Madrid working class.

Despite only starting 21 times for Pep Guardiola last season in the German league, Mandzukic scored no less than 18 times, proving himself to be one of the country's top goalscorers. 

If he can replicate that form in the shirt of Atletico, he will take them to the upper regions of La Liga once more.

The Croatian striker had a rough ride in the first leg as he tasted the flavour of a Madrid derby and the fist of Sergio Ramos, who appeared to punch Mandzukic when both players were on the floor, per Charlie Eccleshare of the Mail Online.

But he will be better prepared for the Galacticos' antics in the next match, and he might just get his revenge on Ramos for the cheap shot.

Mandzukic can endear himself to the Calderon if he grabs a goal and, even better, hands Simeone the victory. Atletico have lost many a great player during the transfer window, so this could be their best chance at gaining silverware, despite the season only just beginning.

Prediction: Atletico Madrid win 1-0.

 

Stats via WhoScored unless otherwise noted. 

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