Along with the 2016 Copa America, Atlético also have players representing the club in the European Championships in France this summer.
With the tournament set to kick-off on Friday with France taking on Romania, let’s take a look at the rojiblancos on show in Europe’s showpiece international tournament.
His domestic season may have ended on a sour note – missing Atleti’s final penalty in the Champions League shootout defeat to city rivals Real – but Juanfran insists he is stronger than ever. The solidarity shown by the Atletico faithful will have provided him with a much-needed confidence boost, as after the penalty miss sales of his shirt went up by 800%.
In January 2011 he arrived at the club as a winger, but under Diego Simeone’s guidance Juanfran has been moulded into one of the best full-backs in La Liga. Over the past three seasons he has made 270 interceptions, topped only by teammate Diego Godin.
The 31-year-old started seven times in his country’s qualifying campaign, in which just three goals were conceded, and he is now Spain’s first-choice right-back. Despite the country’s embarrassing showing in Brazil two years ago, La Roja are still the holders of this competition and should not be written off.
Yannick Ferreira Carrasco (Belgium)
Prior to making the €20m switch from AS Monaco to Atleti, Yannick Ferreira Carrasco had only spent a season and a half playing regular football in Ligue 1. The price tag raised a few eyebrows last summer, but the young Belgian winger settled in quickly at the Vicente Calderón.
Most recently he impressed on the big stage after coming on as a substitute against Real Madrid at the San Siro. At 21 years of age, Carrasco is yet to fully nail a starting a place for either club or country, but over the past year he has seen his reputation rise rapidly across the continent.
With a terrific dribbling ability and lightning-fast pace, Carrasco is a huge asset off the bench – which is where he may find himself during Euro 2016 as he faces competition from the likes of Eden Hazard and Kevin de Bruyne.
He only made his international debut in March 2015 but already looks set to have a bright future for his national team over the next few years.
Koke plays a key role in the fierce set-up in Simeone’s team, and one of his biggest strengths is starting counter-attacks with his sharp touch and clever passing. Over the past two La Liga seasons for the Rojiblancos he has recorded an impressive 24 assists.
In 2013, Koke helped Spain win the Under-21 European Championships and a year later made two appearances at the World Cup in Brazil, totaling 134 minutes. Prior to that tournament he earned high praise from Barcelona legend Xavi, who described Koke as his ‘successor’
“He has everything – he is a footballer of the present and the future,” the Barcelona legend said.
It is no wonder that national manager Vicente del Bosque also rates the Atletico midfielder very highly. He played seven times in qualifying as Spain topped their fairly straight-forward group, and after the retirements of Xabi Alonso and Xavi, Koke’s place in the starting 11 is assured.
Antoine Griezmann (France)
Without a doubt, Antoine Griezmann was the star of Atletico’s season, scoring 32 times in 53 appearances, including crucial goals against Bayern Munich and Barcelona on the way to the Champions League final.
Since his move from Real Sociedad in 2014, the 25-year-old has developed into one of the finest players on the planet.
He was part of the French side that were crowned European Under-19 champions in 2010. The forward has scored seven goals in 25 appearances at senior level for his country, and the partnership with Oliver Giroud up top enables Griezmann to utilise his excellent movement off the ball.
The tournament hosts have been handed a favourable group and should reach the knockout stages with maximum points. Atleti’s number seven will fancy his chances of finding the net against the likes of Albania, Romania and Switzerland.
France are the last team to win the Euros on home soil, and should he replicate his club form, Griezmann can lead Les Blues to glory this summer.
We’ll have more updates from the tournament when after it kick-off tomorrow evening!