MADRID: Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane has assessed LaLiga leaders Atletico Madrid as “definite” favourites to depose them as national champions this season.
The city rivals meet in the league tonight with Diego Simeone’s side unbeaten after 10 games and six points clear of champions Real.
Both sides progressed to the last 16 of the Champions League in midweek.
Zidane said: “We won the league last year and we want to defend our crown and we will do that until the end. We want to win every game and especially this one as it’s a big game.”
Asked if Atletico should be classed as the team to beat, Zidane replied: “Yes, definitely, they should. That is what they are showing on the pitch.
“They are top of the table and they’ve always been a competitive outfit in that sense. We know them well.”
Real welcomed back captain Sergio Ramos in Wednesday’s Champions League victory over Borussia Monchengladbach, while Zidane said that midfielder Federico Valverde and full-back Dani Carvajal will also be in contention for a return.
However, they remain without attacking trio Eden Hazard, Luka Jovic and Mariano Diaz, as well as midfielder Martin Odegaard.
Atletico defenders Jose Gimenez and Manu Sanchez, as well as striker Diego Costa will be missing through injury.