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Real on the edge in Madrid derby

sports Updated: Apr 10, 2012 23:38 IST

Reuters
Highlight Story

Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone is just the man to exploit Real Madrid's ragged nerves as his side try to end a 13-year winless run against their more illustrious neighbours on Wednesday.

Simeone, often described as playing with a knife between his teeth when he captained Argentina, has brought some of his uncompromising tenacity to Atletico who have lost only once at home since he arrived in the winter break.

La Liga leaders Real, on the other hand, will have their nerves on edge after seeing a 10-point lead over Barcelona cut to four in the space of three weeks. Their latest slipup was a 0-0 draw at home to Valencia on Sunday. "Perhaps we were a little anxious and rushed when making the final pass," said Real director Emilio Butragueno.

"Wednesday's game will be vital for us to get some breathing space," added the former Real forward known in his playing days as the Vulture. "There is no let up, we have a terrible month in front of us."

While Real have drawn three of their last five league matches, a Lionel Messi-inspired Barca have won nine on the trot.