Sunday, August 21, 2016

Atletico Madrid Greatest All-Time Team

Europa Cup 2012
Please also see my All-Time World Cup Team Index.

Real MadridBarcelonaValencia,
Atletico MadridSevillaAtletic Bilbao, 
Deportivo La Coruna  Real Sociedad,
Real BetisReal ZaragozaEspanyol

This is my selection of a 25 member all-time team for the club.  The number 25 was chosen because it is the official squad size for the Champions' League.

Atletico Madrid is the third best team in Spain after Real Madrid and Barcelona. They were runner-ups at the European Cup three times, won a singe Cup Winners' Cup and two Europa League.  In 1995-1996, they also won the Double(La Liga and Copa del Rey).

GK: Abel Resino (Spain)
Nicknamed the "Cat", he came to Atletico Madrid in 1986 from lowly CD Ciempozuelos and stayed there until 1995.  He won back-to-back Cops del rey in 1991 and 1992.  He won the Zamora Trophy in 1990-1991 season. He played for Rayo Vallecano at the end of his career.  He earned two caps for Span in 1991.

GK: Jose Molina (Spain)
Joined Atletico Madrid in 1995, he helped the club win a Double (league and Copa del Rey) in his first year. However, after Atletico Madrid relegated after the 1999-2000 season, he moved to Deportivo La Coruna and lasted until 2006.  He played one season with Levante.  He made his national team debut in 1996 as an outfielder because the team had used up all the subs. 

GK: Thibaut Courtois (Belgium)
He joined Chelsea from Genk in 2011, but he was sent away to Atletico Madrid immediately.  He won the Europa League in his first season and then, a Copa del Rey in his second season.  In his final season, Atletico Madrid reached the Final of the Champions' League, but lost to Real Madrid.  He was the starting keeper for Belgium at World Cup 2014 and Euro 2016.

RB: Tomas (Spain)
Tomas joined Atletico Madrid in 1984 and stayed there until 1996.  His last season was the year Atletico Madrid won the Double. He played two more years in the lower division before retiring.  He was capped 19 times.  He started most of the games at WC 1986 and Euro 1988.

RB: Feliciano Rivilla (Spain)
Feliciano Rivilla was an all-time great with Atletico Madrid.  He started playing football with Real Ávila CF, moving to Real Murcia at the age of 17.  In 1954, he joined Atletico Madrid, where he played until 1968. For Spain, he won the European Championship in 1964 with Spain, and was a part of two WC Finals in 1962 and 1966.

CB: Diego Godin  (Uruguay)
With Uruguay, he reached the WC semifinal in 2010 and won a Copa America in  2011.  He was a key player for Atletico Madrid when they upset Real Madrid and Barcelona for the La Liga title in 2013-2014. Godín started his professional career with C.A. Cerro at the age of 17. After his good performances, he was transferred to top division powerhouse Club Nacional de Football. In 2007, Godín signed a five-year deal with La Liga side Villarreal CF.
Diego Godin vs Ronaldo
CB: Juan Carlos Arteche (Spain)
Arteche began playing professionally with Racing de Santander after starting in basketball, making his debut in the 1976–77 season.  He joined Atletico Madrid the season after.  He helped the club to reach the Final of Cup Winners' Cup.  He was capped 4 times.

CB: Roberto Solozabal (Spain) 
A product of Atletico Madrid academy.  He played there from 1989 to 1997.  He was known for his solid partnership with Juan Manuel Lopez for the season their club won the Double.  He went to Real Betis in 1997.  He won the Gold medal at the Barcelona Olympics and earned 12 full caps.

CB: Luis Pereira (Brazil)
Luis Pereira was widely considered to be the best central back in the Seleção's history. He was capped over 30 times and played in World Cup in 1974. He played 562 games with S.E. Palmeiras (34 goals) and 171 games with Atlético Madrid (17 goals). With Atletico Madrid, he was considered one of the best defender playing in Europe.  He won La Liga in 1977.
Luis Pereira
LB: Isacio Calleja (Spain) 
Calleja is a long term member of Atletico Madrid.  Safe for a very brief loan spell with CD Guadalajara in the third division, Calleja spent his entire 14-year professional career with Atlético Madrid. He won back-to-back Copa del rey from 1959 to 1961.  In 1962, he won the Cup Winners' Cup. He had 13 caps for Spain. Calleja helped the national side win the 1964 European Nations' Cup on home soil.

DM: Diego Simeone (Argentina)
Simeone started his career with Velez Sarsfield before moving to Europe. He first joined Pisa and Sevilla before going to Atletico Madrid.  He won the Double with them in 1995-1996.  He then moved to Inter Milan, where he won the UEFA Cup in 1998.  In 1999, he moved to Lazio.  Again, he won the Double. For Argentina, he was capped 106 times. He won Copa America in 1991 and 1993.  He went to play in three WC Finals; 1994, 1998 and 2002. 
Diego Simeone
CM: Adelardo Rodriguez (Spain)
Adelardo spent 17 years with Atletico Madrid.  He held the appearance record for the club.  He won 3 La Liga titles and 5 Copa del Rey titles.  In Europe, he also won 1962 Cup Winners' Cup.  He earned 14 caps for SpainHe went to the World Cup in 1962 and 1966.

CM: Gabi (Spain)
At the time of writing, he is the captain of Atletico Madrid.  He played for Atletico Madrid between 2004 and 2007 before moving to Zaragoza.  In 2011, he returned to Atletico Madrid, coinciding with the rise of Simeone's team.  He first took the Copa del Rey in 2013 and then, the league title in 2013-2014.  He captained the side that reached the Champions' league Final twice.

AM: Milinko Pantic (Serbia)
Pantic started with FK Paritizan back home. He went to play with Olimpija Ljubljana and Panionios FC without making any dramatic mark.  At the age of 28, he moved to Atletico Madrid and suddenly, huis career took off. He led them to the Double in his first season.  After 3 seasons, he went to La Harve and then, back to Panionios.  He was only capped 2 times by Yugoslavia.

AM: Larbi Benbarek (France/Morocco)
Benbarek was the first Black player to reach stardom in Europe, earning the nick name "Black Pearl". He made his name with Stade Francasis Paris.  In 1948, he moved to Atletico Madrid, where he reached the height of his career and won two La Liga title.  He is considered one of the greatest ever French player. He was capped 19 times between 1938 and 1954.
Larbi Benbarek
AM/CM: Jose Luis Caminero (Spain)
Jose Luis Caminero was a product of Real Madrid, but started his career with Real Valladolid.  In 1993, he moved to Atletico Madrid.  Over there, he won the Double in 1995-1996 and the Spanish Player of the Year that season. He had 21 caps and played in USA 1994 and Euro 1996.

RW: Jose Ufarte (Spain)
Born in Spain, but moved to Brazil as a child.  He started with Flamengo and Corinthians in Brazil before he returned home and signed with Atletico Madrid He played on the great Atletico Madrid side of the 1960's.  He later played with Racing Santander.  He earned 16 caps.

LW:  Paulo Futre (Portugal)
He won a European Cup with Porto in 1987. He was the best Portuguese player in the 1980's. He gained more than 40 caps for his country, representing it at the 1986 World Cup in Mexico.  He played in Spain, France, Italy and Japan, most notably with Atlético Madrid and Porto.  With Porto, he won the European Cup in 1987, putting on a Man of the match performance in the final against FC Bayern Munich.
LW/FW: Joaquin Peiro (Spain
Peiro is a legend at Atletic Madrid.  He starred as his hometown club won back-to-back Copa del Rey from 1959 to 1961 and the Cup Winners' Cup in 1962. In 1962, he moved to play for Torino.  Then, in 1964, he joined Inter Milan and won the European Cup in 1965.  He later played and captained Roma.

FW/AM: Sergio Aguero (Argentina)
El Kun became the youngest player ever to play in the Argentine Primera Division in 2003 when he played for Independiente.  In 2006, Atletico Madrid broke their transfer record to sign him.  He rewarded the club with the Europa Cup in 2010.  In 2011, he joined Manchester City. Again, he rewarded the club with an added time goal that won the Preimership for Manchester City's first ever title. At the time of writing, he had 77 caps.  
Aguero and Forlan
ST:  Diego Forlan (Uruguay)
His career in Europe started slowly.  He played poorly for Manchester United, but his career took off after heading to Spain in 2004.  He was two-time European Golden Shoe winner in 2004-2005 and then, 2008-2009.  He won the Golden Ball at South Africa 2010, where Uruguay finished 4th.  His best years were with Villarreal and Atletico Madrid.

FW: Luis Aragones (Spain)
Luis Aragones was known as the coach of Spain's Euro 2008 winning team.  As a player, he started with Getafe and then, Real Madrid, but failed to make any impression. He finally made a name with Real Betis and signed with Atletico Madrid in 1964, where he won three league titles. He is the club's all-time leading scorer. He was known for his freekicks.  He was capped 11 times for Spain from 1965 to 1972.
Luis Aragones
ST: Enrique Collar (Spain)
Enrique Collar spent most of his career with Atletico Madrid from 1952 to 1969.  He played a single season with Valencia befoe he retired from playing.  He was a part of the great Atletico Madrid side that won the Cup Winners' Cup in 1962.  He earmed 16 caps fpr Spain.  He also went to the World Cup Finals in 1962 as Spain's captain, but only made a single appearance at the Finals.
Enrique Collar

ST: Jose Eulogio Garate (Spain)
Born in Argentina, Jose Eulogio Garate grew up in Eibar. He was a Basque, but was overlooked by Atletico Bilboa.  He was a member of the legendary Atletico Madrid side that won three league titles. Atletico finished second at the 1974 European Cup, but won the Intercontinental Cup that year. He also won the Pichichi Trophy three straight times: 1969-1970, 1970-1971 and 1971-1972. He was capped 18 times between 1967 and 1975.
Jose Eulogio Garate
ST: Fernando Torres (Spain)
Torres started his career with Atletico Madrid in 2001, where he became the captain at age 19. In 2007, he moved to Liverpool FC and became a big star in England.  In 2011, Chelsea allegedly broke the British transfer record to buy him.  He was a part of the Champions' league winning team in 2012.  For the national team, he was a part of the generation that won the WC in 2010 and two European Championships.  At Euro 2012, he was the top-scorer.

Honorable Mention
Jan Oblak, Vava, David De Gea, Miguel ReinaThibaut Courtois, Luis Garcia , Dirceu, Kiko, Juninho Paulista, Bernd Schuster, José Juncosa, Hugo Sanchez, Radamel Falaco, Leivinha, Javier Irureta, Antonio Munoz, German Gomez, Machin, Juan Manuel Lopez, Jorge Griffa, Santos Ovejero, Luis Amaranto Perea, Adrián Escudero, Antoine Griezmann, Koke, Filipe Luis.

Squad Explanation 
-- Adrian Escudero should be on the team in Gabi's place. I dropped him because I wanted to select Gabi.  Gabi led the team to two Champions' League Finals.  His team needed recognition. I considered dropping Milinko Pantic, Sergio Aguero or Fernando Torres.  Pantic was the reason for the Double. Sergio Aguero won the Europa League. Torres represented a generation before Simeone's reign.  Besides, Torres is the only member who was a part of Spain's World Cup/European Championship winning generation. In the end, it came down to Escudero and Ufarte.  I took Ufarte ebcause the team needed a right winger.
-- Jose Luis Caminero could also play in various positions.
-- Thibaut Courtois won an Europa Cup and took Atletico Madrid to a Champions' League Final.  David De Gea also took the club to Europa Cup.  Jose Molina won the Double. Jan Oblak needed to do more beforeearninmg a spot on the team.
-- Atletico Madrid has plenty great left backs.  The other choises: Filipe Luis, Juan Vizcaino, Jose Luis Capon and Panadero Diaz.  Juan Carlos Aguilera got honourable mention for the rightback spot.
-- For centerbacks, Luis Pereira and Arteche were definitely starters. Diego Godin deserved to be on the team.  That left former teammates, Juan Manuel Lopez and Roberto Solozabal, fighting for the last spot.  I went for Solozabal. Jorge Griffa, Santos Ovejero and Luis Perea on my shortlist.
-- Diego Forlan, Radamel Falcao and Hugo Sanchez were similar.  Falcao and Sanchez did not stay long enough.  Both Diego Forlan and Falcao won the Europa Cup, but Forlan played longer and won the European Golden Boot. Diego Costa was not considered for the Honorable Mention.  He had one good season.  Antonine Griezman would one day be considered.  He has not earned a spot yet.
-- The peak of Fernando Torres' career was spent in the English Premiership.  Nevertheless, he is associated with the club as one of its finest from the academy who played for their first team.  Raúl González spent time with the academy, but was offloaded to Real Madrid.

The frontline consisted of the two forwards from the great Atletico Madrid side of the 1960's.  Benbarek was probably the biggest name ever to wear red, white and blue. Diego Godin is relatively young to be an All-time team, but I do think he is ready to start.

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