Mario earns high praise from Del Bosque and peers

The Atleti midfielder got rave reviews from La Roja veterans on Friday

Atleti have good recent memories from the Allianz

Atlético midfielder Mario Suárez earned his first start with the senior Spanish national team in their World Cup qualifier against Finland last Friday.

Colchonero midfielder Koke did as well, while veteran La Roja member David Villa also appeared in the fold for his fellow Rojiblancos’ debuts.

Villa was removed just before the hour mark, and Koke was utilised in the unusual role of right back by Vicente del Bosque, which, unsurprisingly, prevented the Atleti youth academy product from shining on the evening.

Mario, on the other hand, called up given the injuries to regular starters Xabi Alonso and Sergio Busquets, received overwhelmingly positive reviews from Del Bosque and his Selección peers.

“He’s offered us the nerve that the team demanded,” Del Bosque told Spanish paper El Pais following the 2-0 victory.

“It wasn’t going to be an easy task for him. He performed like a man.

“He had a tough mission and he fulfilled it, defensively and offensively. It has been a good day for him and for the team.”

The Spain boss continued: “I told him not to make his life complicated, that he wouldn’t have any problems playing with Xavi and with Iniesta, that they’re used to playing under pressure, and to pay attention to counters–close attention.

“He’s done it very well.”

Mario completed a remarkable 86 of 90 passes against the Finns, recovered 9 balls, lost 2, committed 2 fouls, and was booked for a tough challenge.

“He’s not rough, he’s aggressive, because his role requires him to be decisive,” former Sevilla striker Álvaro Negredo said after the win.

“Mario is a warrior in the midfield and he showed it.”

Arsenal’s Santi Cazorla agreed, saying, “Mario’s not a rough footballer. He has a job to do, and against Finland he did it to perfection.”

“He positions himself well, offers us tranquility, and links up easily,” said Spanish icon Andrés Iniesta.

“He’s offered us a lot.”

“Rough?” Mario asked. “Sometimes one has to be, but never with ill intention. I believe I’m a player that is defensively aggressive, in the good sense of the word.

“I’ve only tried to help, because that’s what I came for. To help and learn.”

The 26-year-old explained what it was like to suit up for his country as a starter.

“I felt comfortable,” he said. “It’s easy to play when you’re surrounded by the best players in the world.

“It’s different because the national team retains the ball a lot more. At Atlético, we’re much more direct, so with Spain you participate more in the movement of the ball, while at Atlético, you recover more.”

Will we continue to see Mario in his nation’s colours in the future?

“He couldn’t have started better,” Del Bosque said.


  • Colchonero in SF

    Mario was immensely impressive. He played the double pivot as if he’s owned the position for years.

    IMO I don’t think there’s a Spanish defensive midfielder that reads the game better than him… He performed against Finland the way he did against Athletic in Bucharest a couple of years ago.

    Many say Busquets but people seem to forget the he plays with the world’s best players at Barcelona.

    Mark my words- Koke will be Spain’s starting rb for the world cup as Del Bosque doesn’t trust any of Spain’s current crop of RBS.

  • dircil

    Mario is just an above-average DM. He might be good at collecting the ball (for this aspect, I’m quite confident that Gabi does a better job than he does) but he hasn’t proven much about his passing skill, ball control as well as his creativity. My opinion is that if I was del bosque, I would select Gabi over Mario. And sooner or later he will lose his starting position to joshua (I don’t remember the guy’s name)

  • Urban

    It is ture that Mario is above-average in general, but he has this improtant ability to perform 150% in big games, and after Bucharest and CdR final he showed it again.

  • Lubo

    The thing is, Mario is not a classic DM as football world knows that position, like Assuncao or Makelele were (or as Guilavogui seems to be). Mario is more of a box-to-box midfielder with good ball recovery skills. He plays a DM just because the team needs him on that position. And the truth is, he plays this position very well. @Dircil: what does a good DM do? To steal balls + disrupt oppositions play, or he needs to be a good passer and create chances for others? Hell no. He has to commit fouls when needed, recover possession and pass the ball to more creative players. And that’s what Mario does pretty much above average and above most of the La Liga DM’s. The 2 best Spanish DM’s are Busquets (not a fan of him at all) and Mario for sure.
    Plus, as Urban wrote, Mario has the ability to perform under pressure and his performance raises with increasing match importance.

  • Scott

    Can’t agree more with you Lubo. And I fucking hate Busquets!!

  • Kulan

    I also agree with you Lobo, but.. Unfortunately Mario is very inconsistent. When he is good he is à brilliant DM, one of the best in the world IMO. But at times he really sucks.
    Hopefully the signing of Guilavogui can stimulate Mario to step up his game and perform in every game he starts. We all know that he has a huge potential, hopefully he will show that this year.

  • Urban

    Frankly I believe we have a bigger issue with Gabi than with Mario.

    Gabi is expected to be the more creative one and frankly he is just horrible at creating chances, he gets stupid cards (btw considering his role Mario is really good at avoiding bookings) and his free kicks are terrible, in particular when he tries to take a shot on the goal…

  • dircil

    @lubo: Well Mario does recover possession very well but his terrible passing + ball control make him lost the ball as well. Anytime, I saw Mario got the ball, I just pray that the guy will pass it to any nearby teammate. Otherwise, he will easily lose the ball to the hand of the opponent.
    @urban: I rather consider Gabi as a 80% DM + 20% AM player. His ability to read the game is so good that he can prevent the other team attack in time. Honestly, I prefer Koke to Gabi when it comes to handling free kicks or set piece or corner kicks. What else, he did make fairly a lot of fouls but I see them as neccesary.

  • MR

    @dircil: i’m sorry but u have to disagree as Mario has really good technique, he is really good at 1touch play, actually i think the style that suits him best is Barca’s play., he would outplay Busquets easily.
    Mario has a great phisique, great stamina, great positioning, good tackling and passing, he clearly lacked consistency but i think it was down to the fact that the whole Atlético team lacked consistency until Cholos arrival, so this Will be only his second complete season in a good team. We saw a lot of great players underperforming in Atlético in the last 15 years…
    The new guy with the unspellable name looks really promising though, i expect him to grow to the very highest level in dm position very soon…sad news for Gabi.

  • Guilavogui will probably compete with Mario, since they’re both more of the box-to-box type players.
    Gabi and Tiago are more of the dirty tricks, positioning and lowkey playmaker kind.
    I’d prefer Koke over Tiago and Gabi, but this season won’t be us seeing him over there, I think, though you never know.

  • piserakos

    agree with gambo ginalovui will fight with mario mostly it will be a very defencive system mario with ginalovui like last yeat when gabi didn’t played koke or emre used to play at his place and not tiago

  • At first Tiago was the third CM, but with the lack of offensive reinforcements, I wouldn’t be surprised if Cholo wants Koke’s energy for the position he’s placed in right now.

    What are Piatti’s, Insigne’s and Marin’s statuses with their (original) club? If they aren’t high up the ranks, perhaps they could be good options for next year or even in the winter window, if there’s money to spend there.

  • kris

    I don’t believe Koke should have been used as a right back…

    @Ty I don’t think Napoli will sell Insigne now,, but Marin under Cholo will become again what he was hyped up for before,, but that will only happen under Cholo, but I doubt Chelsea will be willing to sell him..

  • Kulan

    It seems like Gimenez will make his nationalteam-debut tonight against Colombia. Straight in to the starting line-up!!

  • Ty Gambo

    But do they get a lot of minutes, etc
    There are a lot of offensive players at Napoli and Chelsea, so they might be cheaper to get than their actual value is.

  • Scott

    I think with Gabi, although our capitan, he gets too many yellow cards…..

  • Piserakos

    Guys if we wanted to buy an am then we would have buy one…. But we play a 4-4-2 with 2 defencive mid. Marin is for 4-5-1 to play behind striker so costa or villa our. And piatti is not good enough. If we buy someone it would have been with money. Mata,cazorla, kagawa? To play as a rm and koke play instead of mario or gabi. Nothing less… I’m going to see gimenez tonight

  • Ty Gambo

    All three I mentioned are very capable to play on the wings, so including Marin who gained fame as a winger.
    I’m not sure about Piatti not being good enough, I think the issue with him has been consistency. And if there’s one guy to get consistency out of players…
    But why I named those is because of their ability to play on the wings, but also behind a striker or even next to one, so a perfect player for the offensive prowess that is sometimes wished for a bit more.
    Piatti with his pace and agility could give something Raul and Cristian cannot.

  • kris

    That is true,, Ty,, what you mentioned…

  • kris

    Oh,, and it’s pretty awesome that Uruguay won with Gimenez in the backline… Great result for Uruguay,, will be glad to see them in the World Cup again.. I was kinda afraid they weren’t gonna make it,, but I guess they will now…

    SN: Alderweireld(finally got the name right, I think) will be wearing number 12 for Atleti..