Falcao vs Pepe, Ronaldo vs Juanfran and the key battles that will decide the Madrid derby

Goal.com has a look at the most important key battles which could decide the El Derbi Madrilène...

With Match day 14 of La Liga just around the corner, Real Madrid fans will be disappointed with the team's performance so far where they are lying below Atletico Madrid in the third spot.  They have failed to recapture the form that won them their 32nd league title and hence find themselves trailing fierce rivals FC Barcelona by a massive 11 points.

El Derbi madrilène, as it is commonly known will yet again be instrumental in deciding the league position of La Liga giants, only this year the Madridistas from Bernabeu might just be the more desperate of the two to get a result. Not only will the winner of this clash gets rewarded with the bragging rights for the rest of the season, but also they cover the gap on Barcelona, which for Real is substantial.

On the other hand, Atletico Madrid are sitting pretty three points behind the Blaugrana in second place. They will be potentially be challenging for the title this season depending on how things go until January to say the least. Whether they keep hold of their star striker Falcao and not to mention, to beat Real in their own backyard will be deciding factors towards their title charge.

Goal.com here analyses the three key battles of the game which will just about decide where the bragging rights go to.

Falcao
vs Pepe

With a striker as efficient as Falcao, any defender will have a nightmare facing him on current form, even Pepe. Falcao is most definitely one of the top strikers in the world. With good pace, agility and top draw dribbling skills, the Colombian striker is an absolute delight for any team to have. With 11 goals and 1 assist in the 12 League games till now to show for, all his team mates need to do is create him a half decent chance and watch magic unfold.

Pepe, on the other hand, is a great defender, good in the air and strong in the tackle. He reads the game well. But an area where he is not strong is facing an astute dribbler. He more often than not ends up fouling a dribbler which puts the pressure back on his side.  This is somewhere Madrid lack in defense and they might just have to pay for it.

.

Gabi
vs Mesut Ozil

Ozil was instrumental in bringing the league title back to the Bernabeu after 4 long years. The German has now been the lynchpin many a times for the stupendous amount of goals scored by Madrid over the years since his arrival.

As far as the weekend game is concerned, Ozil needs to be at his very best. His passing and link up play is better than most attacking midfielders on the planet and on his day can cause havoc in the opposition’s defense. The vision with which he can find either Ronaldo or Di Maria on either wings is crucial to Madrid’style.

Gabi has been a more than decent defensive midfielder for Atletico. His break up play in the centre of the park is an important area of their game but against Real, he needs to lead by example. Ozil will try to control the midfield and this is where Gabi will have a job to do.

Juanfran
vs Cristiano Ronaldo

This is another battle that will be a deciding factor in the match. With Koke set to start in the right wing role, it is clear that Diego Simeone wants to catch Madrid on the break. With Ronaldo not tracking back to help out the defense it becomes a difficult situation for Coentrao as Koke and Juanfran come at him all guns blazing. This will certainly create openings for Atletico on the right.

However Ronaldo will be more than determined to make an impact given that he has found the back of the net just once in the last six games. With Juanfran being known more for his attacking role, Ronaldo will look to get behind the full-back and trouble the Atletico backline.

How do you stay up with football when on the move? With http://m.goal.com –your best source for mobile coverage of the beautiful game.