The Copa America is over. EURO 2016 is at a standstill as the quarterfinals loom. For most Atlético Madrid players, thoughts have shifted to club football and preseason training, which begins July 7; only Antoine Griezmann and Yannick Ferreira Carrasco continue to represent their sides in international play. A particularly busy weekend made this the case, and there was joy domestically, too, as two other Atlético sides won silverware.
Griezmann puts Ireland to the sword, Spain fall on theirs and Carrasco caps Belgium rout
France 2-1 Ireland: Things were pretty grim for France on Sunday. Paul Pogba had toppled over Shane Long in the box in the opening minute and France had not responded to Robbie Brady's ensuing penalty. Moments of genius had saved the hosts from themselves in the group stage and two more such moments were required to eliminate a very stingy Ireland. Atlético potential Ballon d'Or candidate duly delivered, thumping home a header two minutes before the hour and following it up with a clean left-footed strike created by a stunning Olivier Giroud headed lay-off. France have yet to put in a full 90 minutes at the Euros, but Griezmann - now the competition's joint-top scorer - saved les Bleus' bacon again, pushing further his credentials as a world-class forward.
Italy 2-0 Spain: While Griezmann led the France charge in Lyon, Juanfran and Koke's Spain side saw their reign as European champions end in Paris after nearly eight years. It was all so predictable. Italy got long-awaited revenge thanks to supreme organization, breaking up Spain's predictable, outdated tiki-taka system and capitalizing on two Sergio Ramos mistakes (the foul that led to the free kick that led to the goal and the block that helped the ball land right at Graziano Pelle's feet, don't act like you didn't see them). Juanfran played well in wins over the Czech Republic and Turkey but was not particularly influential in losses to Croatia and Italy. Koke played 19 minutes in the easy win over the Turks. No other word but inexcusable. Koke is Spain's third-best midfielder and Vicente del Bosque chose to play Cesc Fàbregas over him. In 2016. We can only hope the next Spain boss shows more respect.
Hungary 0-4 Belgium: Belgium piled on late in Toulouse after Hungary held on for 80 minutes. In stoppage time, Radja Nainggolan fed YFC an excellent ball and the 22-year-old slotted home with the left foot for his first international goal. This hasn't been the easiest competition for Carrasco, who was dropped to the bench after starting Belgium's last two group games but if that goal gets him off the schneid, Belgium are a true threat to win the Euros (even with no natural full backs). Carrasco and Griezmann are the only two Atlético players left in any international competition.
Looking out the window, staying out of the sun: Argentina runners-up again
Argentina 0-0 Chile (2-4 pens): If you think Atleti have awful luck in the Champions League final, you should hear about Argentina and the Copa America. Or the World Cup. But let's stick with the Copa America. Once again, Argentina rolled into the final against Chile. Once again, the game went to penalties goalless. Once again, Chile won on penalties. This latest loss - Argentina's sixth consecutive in a final - has driven Lionel Messi into a premature international retirement; several of his teammates will reportedly follow. Augusto Fernández missed the final through injury but Matías Kranevitter played 63 solid minutes - more experience for the ex-River Plate ace. Nicolás Gaitán didn't play, either. Heartbreaking stuff, and a double-whammy for Augusto and Kranevitter.
Reinas and Reyes: Feminas, Juvenil side secure dramatic Copa wins
Barcelona 2-3 Atletico Madrid Feminas: Atlético's women's team won silverware for the first time in its history after holding off Barcelona in Sunday afternoon'a Copa de la Reina final. The Féminas built a 3-0 lead inside 30 minutes in a whirlwind display capped by goals from Angela Sosa, Silvia Meseguer and Esther. Barcelona's women fought back, converting a penalty early in the second half and cutting the deficit to one goal with less than 30 minutes to go. However, the Féminas would indeed hang in to notch a famous win. Pretty good compensation for not winning the league.
Real Madrid 3-4 Atleti Juvenil a.e.t.: This was fun. Another Madrid Derby final didn't start off too well for Atlético's under-19 side; the lads were bombarded early and on the wrong side of a 3-1 scoreline inside half an hour. But the first half onslaught set up a wonderful comeback story. Toni Moya got Atleti's second goal pretty quickly after the restart before Moya danced into the area to score the equalizer on 83 minutes. In extra time, Solano scored from outside the box to complete the improbable comeback as Atleti's U-19 side, with highly-regarded prospect Salomon Obama and future first-teamer Theo Hernández, won its first Copa del Rey since 1958! And just as significant, the cup win came against the team that has tortured the senior side in its quest to win the Champions League. Cracking stuff!