They will have another chance to do so on Sunday, though resurgent Real are top of La Liga and — as they showed away to AC Milan on Wednesday — in excellent form and spirit.
In contrast, Atletico are in poor form and heart. They will be without regular central defenders Diego Godin and Luis Perea on Sunday due to illness and suspension respectively.
In addition, Diego Forlan and company might be tired for “El Derby” after Thursday’s trip to Norway to face Rosenborg in the Europa League.
Atletico striker Sergio Aguero said: “We know that it is a difficult task, but we have a team good enough to win and we know that one day we will beat them.”
Real, who beat Atletico 3-2 twice last season, are one point above Barcelona at the top.
On Sunday, Barca are away to Getafe, who have caused problems for them in recent years.
Barca coach Pep Guardiola will probably rest playmaker Xavi after using him in the 5-0 thrashing of Sevilla and the 1-1 draw away to FC Copenhagen. Xavi, 31 in January, has a chronic Achilles tendon problem and has started to pick and choose his matches.
Guardiola is likely to replace Xavi with Javier Macherano. Barca’s only injury victim is winger Jeffren.
Getafe, in contrast, will be without Mane, Manu del Moral, Dani Parejo, Miguel Torres and Jaime Gavilan.
Also on Sunday, third-placed Villarreal — who are two points behind Barca — are at home to Athletic Bilbao.
Sunday’s other games are: Levante-Deportivo Coruna, Osasuna-Hercules, Almeria-Sporting Gijon and Zaragoza-Mallorca.
The tenth round of matches will kick off on Saturday with Real Sociedad at home to racing Santander, then Espanyol taking on Malaga.
Making his debut on the Malaga bench will be former Real Madrid and Villarreal coach Manuel Pellegrini, who has agreed to a contract until 2013 with the southerners. On Tuesday Malaga sacked Portuguese coach Jesualdo Ferreira.
As usual, the last match will be on Monday. These Monday night matches are not popular with the fans and players but finally, and for the first time this season, an attractive clash has been chosen: Sevilla against Valencia.
Inconsistent Sevilla are seventh, Valencia — who are always dangerous on the road — are fourth. — DPA.