Picking a Best Atletico Madrid XI Using Only 1 Player of Each Nationality

Mark JonesFeatured ColumnistDecember 2, 2016

Diego Godin and Miranda celebrate.
Diego Godin and Miranda celebrate.Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Atletico Madrid’s rise to prominence over this century has been built on some excellent players, and those names have been drawn from all four corners of the globe.

Although based in the Spanish capital, the club have had some excellent foreign stars down the years, with the Vicente Calderon often a hotbed of different cultures as players come together to speak the same language: football.

But what if we decided to limit the club to one player per nationality? Who’d make the cut? Well, we’ve tried to do just that here.

             

Criteria

So, 11 playersall drawn from the last 10 years at Atletico Madrid—in any formation, with the only stipulation being that they all have to come from different countries.

Who takes the Spanish slot? How many South Americans make the cut?

Here’s our attempt; feel free to give us yours in the comments section.

           

Goalkeeper: Jan Oblak, Slovenia

Jan Oblak has blossomed into a fine goalkeeper.
Jan Oblak has blossomed into a fine goalkeeper.TF-Images/Getty Images

Try this with pretty much any other elite team and you won’t get many Slovenians.

Atletico Madrid’s current goalkeeper is a godsend for this selection, and he takes his place between the sticks thanks to both his nationality and his outstanding quality.

Oblak won the Ricardo Zamora trophy for La Liga’s best goalkeeper last season after conceding just 18 goals in 38 games.

          

Right-back: Tomas Ujfalusi, Czech Republic

Tomas Ujfalusi nips in ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo.
Tomas Ujfalusi nips in ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo.PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU/Getty Images

A Czech checks in at right-back, where Tomas Ujfalusi’s rugged demeanour and tough exterior will come in handy.

The defender—who could also play at centre-back—was capped 78 times for the Czech Republic.

After joining Atletico on a free transfer in 2008, he proved to be more than good value for money, helping the team into the top four in his first season and playing a key role in the side that won the UEFA Europa League in 2010.

           

Centre-back: Diego Godin, Uruguay

Diego Godin has been at the heart of the Atletico defence since 2010.
Diego Godin has been at the heart of the Atletico defence since 2010.Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images

One of the first names on any Atletico teamsheet even if we weren’t selecting this particular team, centre-back Diego Godin has established himself as one of the best in the world at what he does over the past decade.

The former Villarreal man was a key figure in the Atleti side that won the league title in 2014—scoring the crucial goal in the final game of the season at Barcelona—as well as reaching two Champions League finals in three years and scoring a goal in the first one.

         

Centre-back: Miranda, Brazil

Miranda was a rock at the heart of the Atletico defence.
Miranda was a rock at the heart of the Atletico defence.MIGUEL RIOPA/Getty Images

There were some excellent Brazilians who could have got the nod for this team, but we’ve gone with centre-back Miranda—who rekindles his partnership with Godin here.

After arriving from Brazilian football in 2011, the 37-times capped Brazil international proved to be a hugely successful addition. He kept things tight at the back alongside Godin, and he also scored the winner against Real Madrid in the 2013 Copa del Rey final.

         

Left-back: Antonio Lopez, Spain

Antonio Lopez lifted the Europa League as Atletico captain.
Antonio Lopez lifted the Europa League as Atletico captain.NIGEL TREBLIN/Getty Images

The Spanish position was obviously one of the most hotly contested, and it might surprise some that we’ve gone for Antonio Lopez.

Although he missed out on the club’s more successful years of recent times, the left-back and former club captain was still a fine servant for Atletico, and he was in the squad for both of the Europa League final victories of 2010 and 2012.

         

Midfielder: Tiago, Portugal

Tiago is still a key player for Atletico.
Tiago is still a key player for Atletico.TF-Images/Getty Images

We need a midfielder who can sit in front of the back four, and although Tiago’s qualities are more developed than that, the 2013/14 title winner gets the nod for our side.

The 35-year-old is still at the club, and after recovering from a broken leg halfway through last season, he has returned to the side in recent weeks. He brings both a calmness in possession and authority on the ball that some of the other midfielders at the Calderon lack.

        

Midfielder: Yannick Carrasco, Belgium

Yannick Carrasco is having a fine season.
Yannick Carrasco is having a fine season.Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images

Belgium international Yannick Carrasco is having a fantastic season after taking on the mantle of the goalscoring midfielder Diego Simeone’s side were lacking in the last few seasons.

Carrasco scored a hat-trick in the 7-1 league win over Malaga in the current campaign, and he seems to be building on his displays in his first season at the club—which ended with a goal in the Champions League final defeat to Real Madrid in Milan.

       

Midfielder: Arda Turan, Turkey

Arda Turan shone over four seasons with the club.
Arda Turan shone over four seasons with the club.Jean Catuffe/Getty Images

A player who made his name at Atletico Madrid, the arrival of the Turkey international Arda Turan from Galatasaray in 2011 coincided with one of the more successful periods in the club’s history.

Turan won the Europa League in his first season, the Copa del Rey in his second and the league title in his third, before leaving for Barcelona at the end of his fourth.

A stylish, attacking midfielder capable of scoring decisive and important goals, he played his best football when he was with the club and hasn’t quite been able to recapture that form at Barca.

         

Forward: Antoine Griezmann, France

Antoine Griezmann has become a world star at Atletico.
Antoine Griezmann has become a world star at Atletico.Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images

The star of the current Atletico side, France international Antoine Griezmann exploded on to the international stage at Euro 2016 in his homeland in the summer, top scoring with six goals and being named as the best player at the tournament.

The former Real Sociedad star has blossomed into one of the best attacking players of the modern era, combining both excellent quality on the ball and a ruthless eye for goal to become one of the best players in La Liga.

Griezmann could end up on the top-three podium for the 2016 Ballon d’Or, perhaps marking him out as Atletico’s best player of this decade.

               

Forward: Radamel Falcao, Colombia

Radamel Falcao was one of the most revered forwards in the world.
Radamel Falcao was one of the most revered forwards in the world.DANI POZO/Getty Images

A rampant goalscoring machine when he was at his best, Colombia’s Radamel Falcao was an out-and-out poacher during his two years at Atletico between 2011 and 2013.

Having joined the club from FC Porto, Falcao shot Atletico to the Europa League title in his first season at the club—scoring twice in the final against Athletic Club Bilbao—before following that up with a hat-trick as he downed Chelsea in the UEFA Super Cup final at the beginning of the 2012/13 season.

He ended that campaign by being a key figure in the side that beat Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey final, before somewhat disappointingly moving to AS Monaco and never quite being the same player again.

          

Forward: Sergio Aguero, Argentina

Sergio Aguero shot to fame at Atletico.
Sergio Aguero shot to fame at Atletico.PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU/Getty Images

The club’s record signing when he arrived as a teenager in 2006, Sergio Aguero honed his skills at Atletico and ended up becoming one of only 10 players to score over 100 goals for the club.

After linking up with both Fernando Torres and Diego Forlan during his time at the Calderon—two players unfortunate to miss out on this team—Aguero quickly developed a reputation for being one of the best young forwards in the world.

He shone in both the Champions League and the club’s Europa League success in 2010 before departing for Manchester City a year later.