Sunday, August 21, 2016

Atletico Madrid Greatest All-Time Team

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

Atletico Madrid All-Time Team for Foreign Players
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).
1974 Intercontinental Cup
GK: Abel Resino (Spain)
Abel Resino was 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 spent a season playing for Rayo Vallecano at the end of his career.  He earned two caps for Span in 1991.

GK: Jose Molina (Spain) 
Jose Molina 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. He had 9 caps in total.

GK: Thibaut Courtois (Belgium)
Thibaut Courtois 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 2018, 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 the 1986 World Cup Finals in Mexico and the 1988 European Championship in West Germany.

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 as a starter, and was a part of two World Cup 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.  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.  He was a key player for Atletico Madrid when they upset Real Madrid and Barcelona for the La Liga title in 2013-2014. 
Diego Godin vs Ronaldo
CB: Juan Carlos Arteche (Spain)
Juan Carlos 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 in the 1985-1986 season.  For Spain, he was capped 4 times scoring a goal between 1986 and 1987.

CB: Roberto Solozabal (Spain) 
Roberto Solozabal was 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.  For Spain, he won the Gold medal at the 1992 Olympics held in Barcelona.  He also earned 12 senior 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, but only the 1974 World Cup Finals held in West Germany and remembered receiving a red card against Netherlands. 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.  During his spell, the club won three La Liga titles (65–66, 69–70 and 72–73), five Copa del Reys (1960, 1961, 1965, 1972 and 1976), the 1962 European Cup Winners' Cup, the 1974 Intercontinental Cup. He earned 14 caps for Spain between 1962 and 1970He went to the World Cup in 1962 and 1966.

CM: Gabi (Spain)
At the time of writing, Gabi 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)
Larbi Benbarek was born and raised in Morocco in the period when the country was under the French rule.  He 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 same season. He had 21 caps and played in the 1994 World Cuop Finals in the USA and the 1996 European Championship in England. 

RW: Jose Ufarte (Spain)
Born in Spain, but Jose Ufarte 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.  Ufarte represented Spain at the 1966 World Cup in England.

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.
Paulo Futre
LW/FW: Joaquin Peiro (Spain
Joaquin 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 in Italy.  Then, in 1964, he joined Inter Milan and won the European Cup in 1965 as a member "la Grande Inter".  He later played and captained Roma. He had 12 caps in a 10 year period.

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.  
Sergio Aguero and Diego Forlan
ST:  Diego Forlan (Uruguay)
Diego Forlan's career in Europe started slowly, but his career finally took off after heading to Spain in 2004.  He was two-time European Golden Shoe winner in 2004-2005 and then, 2008-2009.  His best years were with Villarreal and Atletico Madrid, winning the UEFA Europa League with the latter. He had 112 caps, leading Uruguay to the 2011 Copa America title as well the semi-final of the 2010 World Cup Finals.  He won the Golden Ball at South Africa 2010.

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
FW/RW/LW: Enrique Collar (Spain)
Born in 1934, 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, scoring 4 goals for 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 in the 1970's. 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. He never played in a major tournament because Spain failed to qualify for any.
Jose Eulogio Garate
ST: Fernando Torres (Spain)
Fernando 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 World Cup in 2010 and two European Championships (2008 and 2012).  At Euro 2012, he was the top-scorer.
Fernando Torres

Honorable Mention
Jan Oblak, Vava, David De Gea, Miguel ReinaLuis 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, Diego Costa, Raúl García, Paco Campos, Joaquín Peiró.

Squad Explanation 
-- Adrian Escudero should be on the team, but I could not find spaces for him.  He was the all-time leading goalscorer for Atlético Madrid with 170 goals. Instead, I took Gabi who led the team to two Champions' League Finals.  
-- I also considered dropping Milinko Pantic, Sergio Aguero or Fernando Torres.  Pantic was the reason for the Double in the 1995/1996 season. Sergio Aguero helped the club to win 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 from 2008 to 2012. In the end, it came down to Escudero and Ufarte.  I took Jose 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 before earning a spot on the team.
-- Atletico Madrid has plenty great left backs, but I only took Isacio Calleja because I saved a spot for an upfield player.  The other leftback choices are 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.
-- Under manager Helenio Herrera , Atlético Madrid won La Liga in 1950 and 1951.  It was a Golden period for the club. Larbi  Benbarek, Joaquin Peiro, Adelardo Rodriguez, Isacio Calleja, Feliciano Rivilla  and Jose Ufarte belonged to that generation.
-- Atletico Madrid reached the Final of 1974 European Cup.  From that team, I selected Luis Aragonés, Jose Eulogio Garate and Jose Ufarte.
-- Atletico Madrid won the Double in 1995/1996 season.  Tomas, Jose Molina, Milinko Pantic and Jose Luis Caminero made this team.
-- Diego Simeone was a big star as a player.  Under Simeone as the manager, I took Gabi, Diego Forlan, Diego Godin, Fernando Torres and Thibaut Courtois from his team.
--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.
-- 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. 
-- I seriously considered Antonine Griezman. He helped the club to win the Europa League.  He has not earned a spot yet, but he will be on this team if he does not transfer to another club. Diego Costa also made honorable mention.

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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