No, you haven’t been mistaken, Atlético Madrid have been confirmed as one of the 16 participants in the Under-20 version of the Copa Libertadores in Peru later this month.
The Rojiblancos were invited as a special guest of the tournament following the unprecedented success of our cantera this year, and can add another trophy to the six already won so far with up to six games against the likes of Boca Juniors, River Plate and Corinthians.
Matches will be taking place between June 15 – July 1.
C-team manager Alfredo Santaelena will take charge of the team, and he named his 20-man squad earlier today. Players from Atlético B, C, Juvenil DH, Madrileño DH and Juvenil LN were all called-up, as well as three trialists; Jesús, Gregorio and Lucas.
With participants having to be born after 1991, options from the reserve side were limited, even more so considering Pedro Martín has been rested ahead of the start of pre-season training, and Saúl Ñíguez is unavailable due to national team involvement.
However, playmaker Omar, who ended the season in great form, attackers Kader, Iván and N’Doye, and the highly impressive Brazilian left-back Elbis Sousa will all take part.
Sadly, none of our Juvenil A side will be available to Alfredo as they are still battling to win the Copa del Rey, so we won’t see the likes of Oliver, Manquillo or Ian, who’s brother Javi González from Atleti C will play in goal.
Two of their new signings for next season, Asamoah and Luis Milla, the latter the son of the Spain U-21 manager, have been chosen though, and will pull on the red and white shirt for the first time in Peru.
Alfredo is set to move up to Atleti B in place of the departing Milinko Pantic from July, but that hasn’t stopped him bringing along 7 of the C-team players he managed this year, including joint top scorers Josito and Doménech.
Also, one player from our recent Under-17 World Champions will travel, towering 17 year-old centre-back Alberto Villapalos from our Juvenil Liga Nacional side.
Most will be aware of the Copa Libertadores at the senior level, South America’s most prestigious competition and equivalent of the Champions League, although the youth version only began last year. Atleti are the first European side to take part, and will look to follow on from Peruvian side Universitario who are the sole winners so far.
In our group we will face River Plate (ARG), Corinthians (BRA) and Junior (COL), with the first game against the team from Buenos Aires set for Sunday the 17th. A full schedule can be found here.
Goalkeepers: Javi González, Jesús
Defenders: Kader, Elbis, Gregorio, Chema, Aitor Ruano, Villapalos
Midfielders: Abián, Iván Sánchez, Omar, Kity, Doménech, Stephane, Asamoah, Luis Milla
Forwards: N’Doye, Josito, Borrueco, Lucas