The World Cup kicks off in a couple weeks, as Atlético Madrid’s season is over after a second place finish in LaLiga along with a Europa League trophy to show for the last nine months or so. One or two of the players in Simeone’s squad could be adding “World Cup winner“ to their CVs very soon, too.
Atlético have plenty of representatives this year. Some of them are favourites and with the exception of Croatia, who have a very good squad, the other four will be trying to win it —!although Uruguay don’t have the same talent as teams like Brazil, Spain or France.
Let’s start with the Uruguayans then. Under Óscar Tabárez, Uruguay will bring Diego Godín and José Giménez. The pair start for the country just like they do at Atlético and it is one of the stronger areas of the field with Edinson Cavani and Luis Suárez making up a very strong front line. Under Tabárez, they play quite defensively, which suits Simeone’s two defenders down to the ground.
Julen Lopetegui named his 23-man squad on Monday and Koke, Diego Costa and Saúl Ñíguez will all be vying for places in one of the pre-tournament favourites’ side. Koke has been knocking on the door for quite some time and Saúl offers a little bit of variety in midfield that no other player has. Costa should start up front despite Iago Aspas’ red-hot finish to the season.
While Atlético might lose one of their French players during, before or after, Antoine Griezmann remains a rojiblanco for now. He is joined by newcomer Lucas Hernández in Didier Deschamps’ squad. They are another team that look like they have the quality to go far and Lucas could start at left-back with Benjamin Mendy, the other option, lacking match sharpness after a serious injury during his debut season with Manchester City.
Šime Vrsaljko has had an up and down year at Atlético but he has shown enough to suggest he has what it takes to be the long term replacement for Juanfran Torres at right-back.
Filipe Luís broke his leg earlier in the season but has proven his worth since returning (remarkably) and is still considered good enough to feature for Brazil at the World Cup. Marcelo will start but after a long year and some muscular injuries of his own, it would not be a surprise to see them share minutes early on in the tournament.