Koke sets new Atletico Madrid appearance record

By Sports Desk October 01, 2022

Long-serving Atletico Madrid midfielder Koke set a new record for the most appearances of any player for the Spanish side in Saturday's meeting with Sevilla.

The 30-year-old featured in Atletico colours for the 554th time in all competitions, seeing him overtake fellow Atleti icon Adelardo Rodriguez.

Next on the list of Atleti's all-time appearance makers are Pedro Tomas (483), Enrique Collar (468) and Carlos Aguilera (456).

Koke emerged through Los Rojiblancos' youth ranks and made his first outing for the senior side in a 5-2 loss at Barcelona in September 2009.

He has made 392 appearances in LaLiga, 41 in the Copa del Rey, 84 in the Champions League, 29 in the Europa League, six in the Supercopa de Espana and two in the European Supercup.

Across his 13 years with Atletico, the 67-cap Spain international has won eight major trophies, including LaLiga in 2014 and 2021, while also reaching two Champions League finals.

The 2013-14 season saw Koke make his most appearances for Diego Simeone's side in a single campaign, with 58 in all, with that also his most prolific scoring season as he registered seven goals.

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    The Milan striker equalled Thierry Henry's 51-goal record with a brace in a 4-1 win over Australia in his nation's World Cup opener, leaving him one shy of the outright benchmark.

    That made Giroud, aged 36 years and 53 days, the second-oldest player to score a double at the World Cup, after Roger Milla, who did so in 1990 for Cameroon aged 38.

    Giroud claimed the record outright with the opening goal in the round-of-16 clash against Poland, latching onto Kylian Mbappe's pass to fire Les Bleus ahead.

    The former Chelsea and Arsenal striker would likely have not started for Didier Deschamps' side if it had not been for pre-tournament injuries to Karim Benzema and Christopher Nkunku.

    Instead, Giroud and Kylian Mbappe have been tasked with carrying the attacking burden as France aim to defend their World Cup crown.

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    "At some point, when Costa Rica were leading against Germany, Spain were out of the tournament, so they couldn't allow themselves to lose. Japan deserved to win.

    "Before the group stage, if we could choose an opponent in the next round, some people may have said Japan, but after seeing them beat Germany and Spain, they are anything but an easier opponent.

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    Croatia might have progressed from a group that also included Belgium and Canada, but failed to score in two of their matches – they had only drawn a blank in two of 13 matches at the tournament in the 2006, 2014 and 2018 editions combined.

    Dalic's side like to control possession, but that could play into Japan's hands. They averaged just 32.3 per cent of the ball across their three group stage games. Indeed, their two wins over Spain and Germany came with 17.7 per cent and 26.1 per cent possession respectively, while the one match they lost came when they had more of the ball against Costa Rica (56.8 per cent).

    PLAYERS TO WATCH

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    Only three players have ever scored at least three goals as a substitute at a single World Cup – Andre Schurrle in 2014 (three), Roger Milla in 1990 (four), and Laszlo Kiss in 1982 (three).

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    Mateo Kovacic, Marcelo Brozovic and Luka Modric run the midfield for Croatia, but their attack is not quite as world-class.

    That being said, in Ivan Perisic they have a wide player more than capable of chipping in. The 33-year-old has scored nine goals at major tournaments, which is a joint record for Croatia along with Davor Suker.

    Perisic has also set up seven goals at either the Euros or the World Cup, a national record, and no Croatia player has had more shots so far in Qatar than his tally of five.

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    "Brazil has just lost the Copa America final, I think they don't want that match."

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