Nine Atlético players were called up for their national teams as World Cup qualifying started in South America, while in Europe the final group phase games were played for the upcoming European Championships in 2012.
There was heartbreak in Group A, where Thibaut Courtois‘ Belgium finished behind Arda Turan and his fellow Turks. Despite collecting 15 points, De Rode Duivels, where Courtois still waits for his debut, will miss Euro 2012.
Arda Turan started against Germany (1-3 loss) and Azerbaijan (1-0 victory) and now awaits one final hurdle. The draw for a play-off between eight runner-ups takes place tomorrow.
A possible opponent for Turkey is Portugal, who finished behind Denmark in Group H.
Right back Sílvio didn’t feature in Portugal’s game due to injury, which could be good news for Atleti as the extra rest may allow the 24-year-old to start against Granada, and perhaps even against Udinese a few days later.
The long term picture looks somewhat grim however, as the defender is almost certain to go under the knife at some point before the end of the season to resolve his groin issue.
Atlético coach Gregorio Manzano has reportedly experimented with Juanfran at right back in training the past few days, as Luis Perea hasn’t impressed in his backup role so far.
The Euro play-offs are scheduled for the 11th and 15th of November.
In South America, qualifying for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil has already kicked off. Colombia sat out the first round, but made their debut on Tuesday.
Few teams are capable of winning in the high altitude of La Paz, capital of Bolivia, but a thrilling late strike by substitute Radamel Falcao got the Cafeteros’ Brazil 2014 campaign off to a roaring start.
Colombia coach Leonel Álvarez surprisingly left ‘El Tigre’ out of his starting formation, but brought him on with a little over ten minutes to go. In the 93rd minute Falcao scored the 2-1 match-winner, getting back to his old ways after failing to find the back of the net in Atleti’s last three games.
Luis Amaranto Perea was named captain of the Colombian side and was visibly emotional after leading his country to their first ever victory in Bolivia.
The defender couldn’t hold back his tears during a post-match interview.
The reigning champions of South America also played against La Verde. On Friday, Uruguay beat the Bolivians 4-2, with Diego Godín playing the full 90 minutes. The 25-year-old almost scored in the clash, but Diego Lugano got in front of him to knock in a free kick cross by Forlán.
Four days later, Godín donned the sky blue shirt again in Uruguay’s 1-1 draw with Paraguay. Former Rojiblanco Diego Forlán netted yet another goal for the Celeste and is now their all-time top scorer with 32 goals.
Eduardo Salvio came on in the second half of Argentina’s 4-1 home victory over Chile, but didn’t feature when the Albiceleste travelled to Venezuela and lost (1-0) for the first time in their history to La Vinotinto.
Back in Europe, Koke made his debut for Spain U21. He started in la Rojita’s 2-0 victory over Croatia and opened the scoring with a great goal in the 18th minute. A video of his all-round performance can be found here.
David de Gea started in goal for the Spaniards, while Joel took this his regular place on the bench.