Players on International Duty:
Antoine Griezmann (Goal v. Paraguay/75 min v. Sweden). (France)
Koke (Pre-assist to Saul for Morata), Saúl (Assist vs. Colombia) both subbed on v. Macedonia. (Spain)
José Giménez (sensational OG v. Italy; played 90 mins.) (Uruguay)
Jan Oblak (started & CS v. Malta) (Slovenia)
Stefan Savic (Played 90 mins v. Armenia) (Montenegro)
Yannick Carrasco (full match v. Estonia) (Belgium)
Now that the club football season has come to a close we now venture into the realm of international matches. And although there is no major tournament this summer, all countries are in various stages of completion of World Cup 2018 qualifying. Because of this, Atlético Madrid players are competing in games that matter, even if they are not always the best or highest level of football.
So far, Atlético’s players have performed well, if without some end product, except José Giménez who had one of the most sensational own goals against Italy, the opener in a match Uruguay lost 3-0. Truly, it would have been one of the goals of the season if it had been at the other end for poor Josema. Speaking of great goals, Koke and Saúl combined to assist Alvaro Morata in Spain’s match against Colombia, to keep Julen Lopetegui’s undefeated streak as manager going. Koke supplied a great through ball to Saúl down the left wing so that Sauúlito could provide one of his excellent left-footed crosses perfectly onto Morata’s head. Atleti’s two Spanish midfielders would also come on as subs against Macedonia. In the same match, former Colchonero Radamel Falcao became the highest scorer in the history of his country’s national team.
Jan Oblak played the entirety of Slovenia’s 2-0 win over Malta, keeping up his standard of clean sheets which won him the Ricardo Zamora trophy for the second season in a row in La Liga. Atleti’s top scorer Antoine Griezmann scored against Paraguay, and played 75 minutes against Sweden as well, of course maintaining his place in the French National Team, generally deployed as a #10 behind Olivier Giroud. Sticking in Europe, Stefan Savic played for Montenegro against Armenia in their 4-1 win as they hope to keep their surprising campaign for Russia going, though they do find themselves in a kind group.
Yannick Carrasco played the entire 90 vs. Estonia for Belgium as well, carrying on his poor scoring record from club to international level. In CONMEBOL, Filipe Luís failed to get off of the bench in either of Brazil’s matches, being displaced by Marcelo. None of Atleti’s Argentinians were selected for Sampaoli’s first squad, and all have a long way to go if they hope to be in his plans going forward.
All in all, it has not been the most excellent international period from Atleti’s internationals, but their form matters little in these qualifying matches, so long as their country does make it to Russia next summer. Mostly, they will be selected based on their club form for Atlético next season, rather than their performance in mostly underwhelming qualifiers and friendlies.