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Five key players, past and present in the Madrid derby

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Real Madrid and Atletico de Madrid have been at the highest level of world football for years and as a result some of the best players in the world have played in this iconic derby in the city.

Here are five that have really stood out over the past few decades.

Raul (Real Madrid, 1994-2010)

He may have been to Atlético de Madrid academy as a child, but Raúl crossed the border to the capital as a teenager and, after finishing his football studies at Real Madrid, haunted his former team in the derby for over a decade and a half.

Until Cristiano Ronaldo came and brought the record for goals in the game to 22, Raúl was the derby’s top scorer with legendary Ferenc Puskás with 11 goals.

A derby for the 1996/97 season even bears his name. It was titled “La Noche de Raúl” – “Raúl’s Night”, in English – after scoring twice and providing two assists in a 4-1 win.

Karim Benzema (Real Madrid, 2009-present)

The French number “9” is one of Real Madrid’s all-time greats: the foreign player with the most appearances and one of the top four scorers in club history.

He marked the history of the Madrid derby with an emblematic game during the very last derby played at the Vicente Calderón, in the semi-final of the 2017 Champions League (2-1).

Real Madrid booked their place in the final after Benzema dribbled past three world-class defenders in Godín, Savic and Giménez with just an inch of space on the signing. An unforgettable moment in the very last European game in the longtime iconic home of Atleti.

Paulo Futre (Atlético de Madrid, 1987-1993 and 1997-1998)

Signed in 1987, Futre, vice-champion of the Ballon d’Or, has become an Atlético legend. The derby seemed to bring out the best in him.

Not only did he score in his first Madrid derby in a 4-0 win at the Santiago Bernabéu, he also scored in the 2-0 win over Los Blancos in the 1992 Copa del Rey final wearing the captain’s armband.

Miranda (Atlético de Madrid, 2011-2015)

Atlético de Madrid did not win any derby between 1999 and 2013. The Colchoneros played 25 games without beating their neighbors before casting out their demons in the final of the Copa del Rey 2013, organized, as it should be, in the Santiago Bernabéu.

In extra time, with scores deadlocked at 1-1, Atleti Miranda center-back headed for the winner to immediately become a capital derby legend. He dedicated the goal to his son, who he said would no longer be teased in school about the 14-year-old drought!

Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid, 2005-2021)

Another center-back, Ramos broke Atleti’s hearts in Lisbon and Milan in the Champions League finals these teams played in 2014 and 2016.

In the first, he equalized in stoppage time with a header to force extra time, after which Los Blancos lost 4-1. Two years later, he opened the scoring in a match that Real Madrid won on penalties… in which he also scored.

In the last final between the two, the Spanish Supercup 2019, he again scored the decisive goal on penalties to offer the title to Real Madrid.