So far through 17 games played in La Liga, FC Barcelona find themselves tied atop of the league standings as the league heads into its winter break. They are technically leaders given they have a two goal difference better than the Madrid team whom they are tied atop the standings with 46 points, but the surprise is that the Madrid based team tied with Barcelona is not Real Madrid. Instead it’s Atlético Madrid who find themselves tied atop the league standings during the winter break.
The team coached by Diego Simeone has proven and shown that they are a legitimate contender to win the league title while at the same time proving to be the one team capable of breaking up the Barcelona-Real Madrid duopoly that has overtaken La Liga in recent times. Aside from the wonderful coaching of Simeone, a number of players have greatly contributed to Atlético doing as well as they have so far during the 2013-14 season.
While the likes of Thibaut Courtois, Filipe Luis, Joao Miranda, and Diego Costa have received the lion’s share of the spotlight and success for the play of Atlético, there is one player who has largely flown under the radar whose play has been just as instrumental if not more so in seeing Atlético play the way they have so far. Jorge Resurreccion Merodio better known as Koke is the most unheralded player on Atlético and in La Liga so far this season. The 21 year old holding midfielder so far in 22 games across all competitions has scored three goals, but his goal scoring alone does not tell the full story of his importance.
In addition, Koke is the current league leader in assists with eight and has also created 39 scoring opportunities, also the best in the league. Without his pinpoint passes, Diego Costa would probably not be the current league leader in goals scored which he currently tops with 19. All one needs to do is go back and look at the goal that gave Atlético a 1-0 win over city rival Real Madrid where Diego Costa scored thanks to well threaded pass from none other than Koke to notice his importance on this team.
It is not just his pinpoint passing that makes Koke so important and the most unheralded player in La Liga so far this season. Koke has also done a fine job of being the focal player when Atlético break and transition from defense to attack he is the first option that Atlético defenders look to get the ball to with good reason. Given the star power of those who play in the league it is easy to overlook a player like Koke, but when looking for a reason to explain why Atlético are where they are currently one needs to start their explanation by highlighting his fantastic play as he begins to establish himself as the next great Spanish star.