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The two have become Spanish football’s biggest warriors, asserting their domination while directly competing for top honours. Talent Radar takes a look at a combined XI of the best young players in the two sides’ current squads.
Barcelona La Masia has established it’s name as world football’s perennial academy, constantly developing talent and pushing stars through the conveyor belt. But the academy seems to have hit a snag, with many questioning it’s current predicament and future. Barcelona are now competing as any modern club would, by making big money signings.
Atletico Madrid have always championed their excellent scouting and recruiting policy, particularly from South America, and the effects of this are more than apparent on the side. The side have had a reputation of a selling club, but have always had replacements to cover the vacancy. The current squad is a testament to excellent work that is done behind the scenes at the club, with the below combined XI making for some interesting reading.
Note that the following XI has been created keeping in mind first team opportunities and appearances already made, while the formation has been positionally adjusted. Outfield players eligible are those 21 and under as of June 1st 2015, while goalkeepers 22 and under as of the same date were eligible to make the team. To know more about Talent Radar, head this way.
Defence: Diego Simeone has built up a reputation of organising his side around defensive strategies. His philosophy entails a solid defensive phase, before attacking up ahead. It’s thus no surprise that the entire defensive line is made up of Atletico Madrid youngsters. Talent Radar 2014-15 Award winner, Jan Oblak features in goal. Noted particularly for his stellar showing in the Champions League against Real Madrid, the youngster is hoping to seize opportunities besides being the sides’ European competition keeper.
Ahead of Oblak is a three-man central defence, led by another award winner in Jose Gimenez. The Uruguayan was also part of our 100 to Watch in 2015 feature, with Talent Radar particularly hopeful of seeing the youngster shine further this season. Saul Niguez is another youngster with a growing reputation within Spanish football. Though primarily played in midfield, he has been used in defensive roles in the past with Simeone focusing on developing the youngster’s defensive aspects. French youngster Lucas Hernandez makes up the three. The central defender has been named in Atletico’s first-team squad, and though opportunities may be few and far between, he may be another one to look out for given Simeone’s track record.
Midfield: Vice-captain of Barcelona’s B Team, Sergi Samper slots into midfield. The 20-year-old is yet to make his debut for the first team, but has already turned heads with supporters looking forward to the next midfield talent the academy produced. He’s partnered by Atletico’s academy graduate, Oliver Torres, who has spent the past couple of seasons out on loan at Villarreal and Porto.
Highly-talented Angel Correa tips off the midfield playing in the number 10 role. After under-doing heart surgery last year, the Argentine is set to take La Liga by storm, given the reputation he has built up back in his homeland. On either side of Correa on the flanks are Yannick Ferreira Carrasco and Munir El Haddadi.
Atletico secured Carrasco’s signature this past window, and the Belgian has continued to impress as he did in France. El Haddadi was named the Debutant of the Season at the 2014-15 Talent Radar award, and though may struggle to get the same opportunities as he did in the previous campaign, he remains an option for rotation; a much needed requirement for Luis Enrique’s plans.
Forward: After months of speculation about his future, it came as a surprise that someone closer to home picked up Luciano Vietto. With a growing reputation for developing strikers, Atletico have finally found their young man to develop after struggling to find the same level of success in that department for youngsters since the likes of Sergio Aguero and Fernando Torres. Partnering Vietto is 20-year-old Sandro Ramirez, who like El Haddadi, will be looking to grasp at any opportunities provided on the back of Enrique’s rotation this season.