Building Atletico Madrid’s Perfect La Liga Footballer

Building Atletico Madrid's Perfect La Liga Footballer
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The biggest Spanish club not called Barcelona or Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid have enjoyed incredible success throughout their recent history, particularly in the last decade.

A La Liga title in 2014 as well as three Europa League victories have made them a household name in the world of football – which has been largely down to having some terrific stars play in their renowned red-and-white stripes to help fill their trophy cabinet.

With that said, we’ve created their perfect modern footballer, incorporating features from some of the biggest names to have played for the club.

Head: Mario Mandzukic

Mario Mandzukic – Atletico Madrid

An underrated forward, Mandzukic was always an aerial threat and could never be left alone for any set-piece.

It was fitting that his first league goal for Los Rojiblancos was a header, given his prowess in the air. The likes of Juanfran and Arda Turan often looked to cross the ball in from the flanks, as they knew they could trust the Croat to give himself the best chance to time his jump and nod the ball past opposing goalkeepers.

Olympiacos certainly know of his heading ability, given that he scored two headers against them in two Champions League games.

Brain: Diego Godín

Diego Godin – Atletico Madrid

While Godín was never the quickest or strongest centre back on the pitch, his positioning and intelligence made up for it in spades.

The Uruguayan could always be found in the right spot to make an inch-perfect challenge, and never looked flustered by any forward he faced. His skill in reading the game and intuition in knowing when to push forward for an interception or tackle remains a hallmark of his game, and is a main part of why he was one of the best defenders in the world at his prime.

No wonder Atleti achieved so much success with him there to marshal their backline.

Eyes (Vision): Koke

For so long, Koke has remained the creator-in-chief for Los Indios because of his skill in recognising when and where to find a teammate for an attacking chance.

His fantastic eye for a pass has helped him become one of the best creative central midfielders in the game. It’s rare for him to misplace the ball at all, and the fact that he’s racked up over 100 assists for his club emphasises how he can be relied upon to split a defence with his distribution.

No wonder Xavi called him the future ‘conductor of Spain’s orchestra’.

Lungs (Workhorse – Cardio): Diego Simeone

Diego Simeone – Atletico Madrid

Long before he used his lungs to shout about his cojones on the touchline, Simeone was known for his great endurance, which his side benefited from whenever he played.

Playing as a box-to-box midfielder, the Argentine was constantly on the move and could be trusted to roam freely around the pitch. It showed when he popped up for crucial goals from deep positions, while also being able to get back in time to protect his back four when they needed him to.

It’s his work-rate and stamina that made him such a fan favourite at every club he played for, including Atletico.

Body (Strength): Jose Gimenez

Jose Gimenez – Atletico Madrid

It’s amazing to think that Gimenez is still just 25 years old, and that the best is still to come from the defender.

The Uruguay international has built his reputation on being a formidable player to beat, with his strength being a key part of his game. He doesn’t shirk away from any aerial challenge, and has shone in one-on-one situations against attackers who end up being outmuscled by the centre-back.

Add that to his strong interception and tackling skills – and you get a fantastic defender who could get even better as his career goes on.

Legs (Pace): Antoine Griezmann

Though fans of Los Rojiblancos won’t remember him as fondly now as they once did, Griezmann’s speed often served as the difference-maker when the team found themselves in closely contested games.

It was his burst of pace that enabled him to close down defenders rapidly and force them into bad passes, which is a trademark of Simeone’s aggressive pressing style the Frenchman played under. Converted into a centre-forward from initially being a winger, his energy and quickness made it easy for the likes of Koke to create clear goalscoring chances for him to capitalise off.

With speeds of over 30km/h, Griezmann was certainly a difficult player to chase after for opposing defenders.

Left Foot: Radamel Falcao

Radamel Falcao – Atletico Madrid

One of the most deadly finishers on his day, Falcao was able to use either foot to unleash a powerful shot past the best shot-stoppers in the world.

The Colombian was always a threat in the final third and didn’t need to hesitate before firing in a superb strike with his left boot. His sharp goalscoring instincts meant that he was always ready for any chance that fell his way, which often ended up in the back of the net.

As Chelsea fans will remember from their 2012 Super Cup final defeat, Falcao netted a hat-trick on his left-foot alone. Few can achieve that on their weaker foot.

Right Foot: Diego Forlan

Diego Forlan – Atletico Madrid

A player who scored plenty of goals using his right foot, Forlan was a major part of Atleti’s success in the early 2010s.

The striker was able to generate so much power and curve in his shots, that it was often a given that the ball would be nestling in the net after it left his boot. It’s why he was such a set-piece wizard from distance, as he could whip up an extraordinary strike that seemed impossible on first glance.

He was also a poacher in the box too, and you’d rarely see him miss when his right foot was swung back to power the ball past La Liga goalkeepers. Undoubtedly, he was a fantastic player to watch when he played for Los Rojiblancos.

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