The Madrid derby will have huge implications for the title race in Spain and Los Blancos could particularly do with winning on Sunday
Real Madrid legend Fernando Hierro has backed his former club to remain in the Liga title race until the very end as Los Blancos prepare to face cross-town rivals Atletico Madrid.
Diego Simeone’s side are five points clear at the top of the table with a game in hand but inconsistent form has allowed Zinedine Zidane’s side back into the hunt in recent weeks.
Atleti have won only two of their last six matches in all competitions and Hierro, who won five league titles and played over 500 games for Real Madrid, believes that the battle for La Liga will go right to the wire.
What has been said?
Asked whether his old side can still win the league, Hierro told Goal: “Honestly, yes. I do. I have lived the experience myself. I remember losing a big game and then narrowly winning the title on the 38th matchday.
“The [points] difference isn’t as big as it seems, although a result can swing the balance in favour of one side. The football calendar is tough on both teams and it all depends on if the squads can stay fit as the season evolves.
“What matters is how the squad feels and injuries can play a key part. We will see how all that evolves towards the end of the season. Those injuries could have the biggest effect on this title.
“It is an important game, especially because Real Madrid could shorten the distance quite a lot with a victory. It is very level and it will be a good game.
“Knowing Madrid as I do, I would never count them out until the end of the season. It is interesting because all the big teams have to play each other still, with Barcelona, Sevilla and Atletico Madrid all involved in the race.”
How are the teams shaping up?
An extraordinary run of fitness issues has plagued both Madrid sides of late, but Sunday’s visitors will be buoyed by the fact that Karim Benzema has returned to the squad.
Eden Hazard, Sergio Ramos, Dani Carvajal, Eder Militao and Mariano Diaz, meanwhile, remain sidelined.
For Atletico, Kieran Trippier could return after completing a 10-match ban, as could Yannick Carrasco, while Jose Maria Gimenez is set to miss out.