It feels like Christmas to many football fans, the most highly-anticipated World Cup in over a decade is here at last.
Among the exciting talent on show in Brazil are a handful of rojiblancos, eager to help take their respective countries as far as possible. Join me as I run through my five top Atlético players on show in South America (excluding Diego Costa, who has already packed his bags. The others – we’re not so sure.)
Koke – It is no surprise the skilled midfielder made Del Bosque’s 23 man squad, after he enjoyed his best season in an Atletico Madrid shirt to date. How big of a part Koke will play for Spain this year, we will have to wait to find out.
One thing is for sure – he is more than capable of causing numerous problems for opposing teams and may very well unlock defenses the way he has many times for Atleti this season.
Thibaut Courtois – Belgium have an excellent squad of players, and are expected to be this years ‘Dark Horses’. If they live up to expectations, Thibaut will almost certainly have his reputation as one of the best goalkeepers in world football. Three years on since replacing David de Gea, Courtois has become one of the biggest prospects in world football.
The shot-stopper has been exceptional all year, and it is expected that he will shine on the big stage as he has done so often for Atleti this season. He may not truly be an Atleti player – but he is undoubtedly a rojiblanco at heart.
Diego Godin – Super Diego Godin from Uruguay has been absolutely magnificent, not only in the final weeks of Atleti’s historic season, but consistently over the whole year. A vital part of perhaps the best defence in Europe, leaking only 26 domestic goals, Godin will be looking to replicate his club form. Solid at the back, and a huge aerial threat -he will be a tricky player to get past if any nation want to overcome Uruguay.
Cristian Rodriguez – Another player that could be an exciting asset to the World Cup is Cristian Rodriguez. ‘Little onion’ may not have the talent of his compatriots in Edison Cavani or Luis Suarez, but he will still have an important role in Uruguay’s campaign.
The winger will hope to be a thorn in the side of England, Costa Rica and Italy – their first round opposition in Brazil.
Juanfran Torres – The 29 year old will have to wait and see if he gets the nod ahead of Cesar Azpilicueta. If he does, he will have to continue the superb form he displayed this season. His awareness and defensive capabilities have improved hugely over the past few seasons at the Calderon.
Still somewhat underrated, it is unlikely he will star in a Spanish side that contains the likes of Xavi, Iniesta and Diego Costa, but his role as a full back will be massive and his discipline may be something La Roja can benefit from this year if they want to win their fourth consecutive major trophy!
Over the next 30 days we will see an array of footballing talent. Sixty-four matches, thirty-two nations, and only one winner, but the question is, will we witness a World Cup winner at the Calderon next season?