Atletico look to end 14 years of derby pain
Atletico Madrid captain Gabi believes his side have a great opportunity to end their hoodoo against neighbours Real Madrid when they host the Spanish champions this weekend.
Atletico have not won a Madrid derby since 1999, but have rarely had a better opportunity, with Real expected to rest a host of first-team regulars ahead of Tuesday's Champions League semi-final second-leg against Borussia Dortmund.
"There are 14 years worth of desperation to win this game," said Gabi. "Obviously, it is an opportunity for us. It has been a long time since we arrived at a derby so evenly matched and a long time since we beat them. We have spent a long time talking about the best way to win a derby, and now we have to go and do it."
Real will arrive at the Calderon on the back of a devastating 4-1 defeat to Dortmund on Wednesday night, and Gabi is hoping that Jose Mourinho will reserve the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Mesut Ozil for the second leg.
"We expect that Madrid will come here to win the game, regardless of which players play. The result [against Dortmund] was one no one expected - not them, nor the people who watched it from the outside - but they know how to get over this," Gabi said. "It is obvious that at the end of the season, those special players … are the ones that win you most points. If Mourinho doesn't think they should play, then it is better for us."
Real captain Iker Casillas said no matter what happens today, he does not think it will influence how next month's Copa del Rey final between the two will go.
"It has been 14 years since they beat us, and I suppose for them it is an important match, but I don't think it will make a big difference to what happens in the cup final," he said.
An Atletico win would also ensure Barcelona are officially crowned champions tonight should they manage to win away to Athletic Bilbao.