Founded in 1907, Atletico Madrid is one of the biggest clubs in Spain and Europe that has had many great players represent the club throughout the years. So stick with us as we pick our best Atletico Madrid XI of all time:
Touted as one of La Liga’s “Big Three” clubs, Atletico Madrid is the third most decorated club in Spain. Atleti came to prominence in the 40s, winning their first La Liga title in the 1939-40 and was able to repeat that feat the following season. since then the club has enjoyed a steady streak of success, with them being relegated only once. In the past decade and under the management of one of their former player, Diego Simeone, Atletico has once again experienced immense success, both in domestically and in Europe.
Although best Spanish players and foreign superstars choose Real Madrid or Barcelona as their preferred destination in La Liga, Atletico has had its share of world-class players and even once in while a genuine superstar. But generally speaking the club’s best players have always been the ones that resisted the temptation of bigger clubs and have stuck with Atletico through thick and thin. With that being said, now let’s get to our pick of the
best Atletico Madrid XI of all time
As some of the best Atletico players throughout the years have been midfielders, we have chosen the 4-3-1-2 formation for our Atletico Madrid all-time greatest XI. Now let’s see who is on the team sheet!
We start our greatest Atletico Madrid XI of all time with the club’s current goalkeeper,Jan Oblak
. The Slovenian has been nothing short of perfect since he transferred to Atletico in 2014 and has since been regarded as one of the best goalkeepers of this generation. a fact that he proves season after season with countless saves and clean sheets.
After impressing with his performances atBenfica
, Oblak joined Atletico at the start of the 2014-15 season. although he was playing second-fiddle to Miguel Angel Moya, Oblak soon took his place as Moya was injured and after that never lost his place as a regular starter.
With 157 clean sheets and 209 goals conceded in 298 games for Atletico Madrid, Oblak boasts of keeping a clean sheet in 52% of his appearances for the club, an exceptional record by any measure. He has also won both the La Liga Best Goalkeeper and the Zamora trophy 4 times in the past 6 seasons at Atletico, as well as being featured in Champions League Squad of the Season 3 times.
With the 2017-18 Europa League title being the only trophy Oblak has won with Atletico since his arrival, it will be quite interesting to see if he and Atletico manage to win the La Liga this season.
The first defender in our chosen Atletico Madrid best 11 of all time is none other than Juanfran, who was part of a great defense that brought so much success to Atletico in the last decade. Originally a winger, Juanfran’s great defensive talents as well as his natural attacking prowess and crossing ability, brought both security and creativity to Atletico’s right flank for almost a decade until his departure from the club in 2019.
Originally a Real Madrid player, Juanfran wasn’t able to break into los Blancos’ first team and instead found regular football on loan at Espanyol. After a season atEspanyol
, Juanfran impressed enough that earned him a transfer to Osasuna where he played regular football for 4 and a half season before joining Atletico in the January of 2011 and it wasn’t long that he claimed his first trophy with Atletico by helping them win the 2011-12 Europa League.
A Copa del Rey was won in the following season before Juanfran helped Atletico to a historic La Liga title in the 2013-14 season, where he was named in the Team of the Season as well as helping Atleti reach the Champions League final. Another Europa League (2017-18 season) and Champions League final followed before Juanfran left Atletico after 355 appearances and 6 goals in 2019. Juanfran also won the 2012 Euro with Spain. There is no doubt about his place in our best Atletico Madrid XI of all time.
A true Atletico Madrid legend, Isacio Calleja was a player that spent almost the entirety of his career at Atletico Madrid, a trait he shares with several players amongst our
Atletico Madrid Best XI of all time
. Born in 1936, Calleja made his professional debut in 1958 and after going on loan to CD Guadalajara for several months in 1958, spent the rest of his career at Atletico Madrid until he retired from football in 1972.
Calleja was pretty much a starter for Atletico from 1959 on. He helped the club win to back to back Copa del Rey trophies from 1959 to 1961, although the cup was called the Copa del Generalísimo back then, both of which was against their bitter rivals Real Madrid. His performances earned him a place in Spain’s 1964 Euro squad and he ended up helping them win the trophy on home soil.
With 421 appearances, Calleja has the 6th most appearances for Atletico and has helped them win 2 La Liga titles and 4 domestic cup trophies as well as a Cup Winners’ Cup in 1962. Isacio Calleja, who had majored in law, started working as a solicitor in Madrid city after retiring from football. He sadly passed away at the age of 82 in 2019 but he will forever be a legend of Atletico Madrid club.
Diego Godin is a center back that rarely loses consistency, proven by the fact that he just recently featured inSportmob’s best Serie A defenders of 2021
at the age of 35. The Uruguayan defender spent the best years of his career at Atletico Madrid and rightfully so became a club legend and led Atletico as captain to several pieces of silverware over the course of his 9 seasons at the club.
Having established himself in Spanish football by playing forVillarreal
, Godin joined Atletico at the start of 2010-11 season and it didn’t take long for Godin to establish himself as a defender or to win a trophy with the club. Pretty soon, Diego Simeone built his tactics around Atletico’s strong defensive line, with Godin being the general in that defense.
With Atletico, Godin was able to win 2 Europa League titles, a Copa del Rey and a historic La Liga title in the 2013-14 season. he also helped Atletico reach two Champions League finals but Atleti lost on both occasion to their bitter rivals Real Madrid. Apart from a couple of monthly awards in La Liga, Godin has also been named in both UEFA and La Liga’s Team of the Season at least once.
is the foreign player with most appearances for Atletico with 389 appearances and 27 goals for the club. He is also one of the main reason behind Atletico’s success in the past decade which is why he is amongst our Atletico Madrid best 11 of all time.
Brazilians are often not known for their defensive prowess but if one was to name the best Brazilian defenders, Luis Pereira’s name would be one of the first to pop up. Not only a great Atletico player but also one of the finest defenders in Europe in the 70s, Pereira was a big part of the reason Atletico saw itself at the top of Spanish football in the mid-70s, which is why he is featured in our greatest Atletico Madrid XI of all time.
Pereira established himself atPalmeiras
in his homeland Brazil, and would later go on to feature in 562 games for them. After winning 3 Brazilian Serie A titles and 2 state leagues in Brazil as well as featuring for Brazil in the 1974 World Cup, Pereira transferred to Atletico in 1974 and went on to play for the Spanish side for 6 seasons.
Fast and strong, Pereira was also known for his leadership, man marking ability and his hard tackles. Pereira represented Brazil 30 times and made an impact on Atletico after his arrival, with the club going on to win the 1976 Copa del Rey and the La Liga title in 1977. He went on to feature for the club 171 times, scoring 17 goals in the process before leaving the club in 1980. Luis Pereira is now the president of the Atletico Madrid B and he is without a doubt one of our
best Atletico Madrid XI of all time
Atletico is well known for always having some of the best midfielders, especially defensive midfielders, in Europe and their former captain and academy graduate, Gabi, is no different as his defensive sensibilities and the way he controlled the flow of a game was second to none, which makes him perfect for our
Atletico Madrid all-time greatest XI
Gabriel Fernández Arenas, better known as Gabi, was born in 1983 and got to fulfill his dream of playing for his boyhood club, Atletico, after going through the ranks in their academy system but after 2 full seasons, Gabi transferred toReal Zaragoza
in 2007 and stayed there for 4 seasons. Being relegated and subsequently helping them to promotion immediately and eventually gaining captaincy in Zaragoza. Then in 2011, it was finally time for Gabi to come back home and once again joinAtletico
Gabi’s arrival, along with a couple of other players on our best Atletico Madrid XI of all time, ushered in a new Golden Age at Atletico and the result was 1 La Liga title, 1 Copa del Rey, 2 Europa League and two Champions League runner-up spots. Gabi led Atletico as their first captain through most of that success.
After playing for Atletico in 417 matches, Gabi scored his last goal for Atletico, in the 2017-18 Europa League final and in the dying minutes of the game to secure a 3-0 win and the trophy and then left Atletico to go play for Al Sadd in Qatar, where he retired from football in 2020.
We now move from a former academy graduate and club captain to the current Atletico captain, Koke. Jorge Resurrección Merodio also known as Koke is not even 30 and already his achievements have put him amongst the
Atletico Madrid best 11 of all time
. Koke has already had the 2nd most appearances for Atletico with 497 appearances which tells you of his consistency and how integral he has been to one of the most successful eras of Atletico Madrid.
Touted as Xavi’s successor even by the legendary player himself who described him as the “Conductor of Spain's Orchestra “,Koke
much like Gabi came through Atletico’s academy and made his debut for the club in 2009. Capable of playing with both his feet with ease, Koke can play anywhere in the midfield. His distribution of the ball coupled with his impeccable vision for creating attacking opportunities makes Koke one of the most complete players of his generation.
Koke has represented Spain in 2014 and 2018 World Cups as well as 2016 Euro and has 49 caps to his name. during his almost 500 appearances for Atletico, Koke has scored 46 goals and has helped deliver the 2013–14 La Liga, two Europa League titles, two Super Cup trophies as well as a Copa del Rey and 2 Champions League runner-up spots. He is already a club legend and part of our best Atletico Madrid XI of all time so it’ll be interesting what heights he will climb to in the future!
The man with the most number of appearances (553) is our first attacker in the
greatest Atletico Madrid XI of all time
, the great Adelardo Rodriguez. Like many others on this list, Adelardo keeps with the theme loyalty to Atletico as he stayed with the club for 17 years, during which Atletico experienced its most successful era, at least domestically.
An accomplished attacking midfielder, Adelardo was known for his exceptional passing ability and technique as well as his eye for goal, which resulted in him scoring 113 goals during the course of his career at Atletico, earning him the number 8 spot on Atletico’s all-time leading goal scorers list.
During his 17 seasons at Atletico between 1959 and 1976, the club won 3 La Liga titles and 5 Copa del Rey trophies as well as winning the Intercontinental Cup in 1974. One of his first trophies with the club was the 1961-62 Cup Winners’ Cup which was his only European title at Atletico. Barring any unexpected event, Koke will undoubtedly surpass Adelardo’s appearances for Atletico, but one thing that would be hard to surpass is the major honors that Adelardo won with Atletico, which makes him the perfect player for our best Atletico Madrid XI of all time.
Another Atletico academy graduate in our Atletico Madrid best XI of all time is none other than Fernando Torres. One of the best Spanish forwards of all time, Torres had a lengthy and successful career, spent mostly at Atletico or at Premier League clubs,Chelsea
. Over the course of his career, Torres became Spain’s 3rd highest goal scorer of all-time with 38 goals and Atletico’s 6th highest with 129 goals.
One of the few good things that perhaps came out of Atletico’s relegation to Segunda Division in the early 2000s was the emergence of players like Fernando Torres that were given the chance to play in the first team. A chance that El Nino took and ended up scoring 13 goals on his debut La Liga season. Torres spen 7 seasons with Atletico during his first season with the club before moving to Liverpool in England.
After winning the Champions League and Europa League with Chelsea as well as winning the Euros twice and the 2010 World Cup, all of which he played a big part in, Torress came back to Atletico in 2015 to spend another 3.5 seasons with his boyhood club, during which he won his first major trophy with the club by helping them win the 2017-18 Europa League. He left the club soon after to play in Japan and then retired from football in 2019. Apart from being a part of our best Atletico Madrid XI of all time, Torres is a well-loved amongst Atletico fans and is one of their modern icons.
Another addition to our Atletico Madrid best XI of all time from the great Atletico side of late 60s and early 70s is the legendary Jose Garate. Born to Basque parents but on Argentinian soil, Garate was overlooked byAthletic Bilbao
early on his career, even though he played for the Basque-based club SD Indautxu. So he decided to join Atletico Madrid instead and soon became a part of their Golden Generation.
A natural finisher, Garate was deadly in front of the goal and frequently hit double digits of goals each season. he won the Pichichi award, given to La Liga’s best goal scorer, 3 times consecutively between 1968 and 1971. One of which he shared with his partner in Atletico’s attack in the title-winning season of 1969-70.
During his 10 full seasons at Atletico, Garate appeared om 322 games and scored 136 goals and became the 4th all-time leading goal scorer in Atletico’s history. His goals for Atletico secured 3 La Liga titles and 2 domestic cup trophies as well as an Intercontinental Cup. he also helped Atletico reach a European Cup final but they eventually lost to Bayern Munich. Garate’s inclusion on our best Atletico Madrid XI of all time is a simply must.
You would be hard pressed to find a bigger figure than Luis Aragones in Atletico Madrid football club. Aragones won five major trophies at Atletico during his time as a player and then led Atletico to 6 major honors as the club’s manager during 4 different spells. One of the greatest managers and players of Spanish football, Luis Aragones is rightfully the last man in our Atletico Madrid best XI of all time.
Starting his professional career at Getafe, Aragones later went on toReal Madrid
but he failed to feature in any games for the club and was instead mostly on loan. After a few good seasons at Betis, Aragones transferred to Atletico in 1964 and spend the next decade there before eventually retiring in 1974. During this time Aragones, who was a lethal finisher and a free-kick specialist, helped the club win 3 La Liga titles and 2 Copa del Rey trophies alongside his partner Jose Garate. He also won and shared the Pichichi award with Garate in the 1969-70 season when Atletico won the title.
After his retirement, Aragones immediately got into management and through the years was able to help Atletico win 1 La Liga title, 3 Copa del Rey trophies and an Intercontinental Cup in his debut season as a manager. He was also able to manage Spain to the 2008 Euro title and set up a Golden Generation in Spanish football.
Apart from these, Aragones is still Atletico’s all-time leading goal scorer with 172 goals in 368 matches. The last player in our
best Atletico Madrid XI of all time
, Luis Aragones passed away at the age of 75 in 2014. As a player or manager, it’s doubtful that anyone could reach his greatness at the Atletico Madrid football club.