Alejandro Pozuelo will be Toronto FC’s only member on the field when the 2019 MLS All-Star squad will host La Liga giants Atletico Madrid at the Exploria Stadium, home of Orlando City, this Wednesday.
This year’s game will be the 24th edition of the All-Star exhibition match and the sixth straight in which there is at least one Toronto FC representative:
- 2014 - Michael Bradley, Jermain Defoe (vs Bayern Munich, 2-1, Portland).
- 2015 - Jozy Altidore, Michael Bradley, Sebastian Giovinco (vs Tottenham Hotspur, 2-1, Colorado).
- 2016 - Sebastian Giovinco (vs Arsenal, 1-2, California).
- 2017 - Michael Bradley, Sebastian Giovinco, Jozy Altidore (vs Real Madrid, 1-1, Chicago).
- 2018 - Sebastian Giovinco (vs Juventus, 1-1, Atlanta).
In his first All-Star appointment, Pozuelo, who joined Toronto FC from Belgian side K.R.C Genk, will be crossing paths with an old foe in Atletico Madrid.
The 27-year-old Sevilla-born playmaker has 40 Spanish top-flight games under his belt, including five against Wednesday’s opponents.
Waking the Red takes a look back at Pozuelo’s previous encounters against Atletico Madrid:
- Atletico Madrid vs Rayo Vallecano — 3-1 (January 24, 2015 - La Liga)
On a cold night in Spain’s capital, back in early 2015, a certain Antoine Griezmann had single-handedly negotiated the tie between Atletico and Rayo Vallecano as the newly-signed Barcelona player scored twice with the Colchoneros, winning 3-1.
Pozuelo, then a 23-year-old, came on for the last half hour of play replacing Jozabad Sanchez as a right midfielder in a traditional 4-4-2 shape.
- Atletico Madrid vs Real Betis — 0-2 (December 18, 2011 - La Liga)
Eight years, Pozuelo had one of his best performances against Atletico Madrid when the then-Real Betis player scored one of the goals that helped his side conquer the Vicente Calderon with a 2-0 victory.
Pozuelo was deployed as a right winger in a 4-3-3 shape but did not manage to finish the game as he was shown a red card 15 minutes from time due to a handball offence.
- Real Betis vs Atletico Madrid — 2-2 (April 29, 2012 - La Liga)
Pozuelo listed his name on the scoresheet in the second-round game as well, in a four-goal thriller as Real Betis saw their narrow lead cancelled by Atletico in stoppage time for a 2-2 stalemate, on home soil.
TFC’s no. 10 entered the game on minute 75 and it took him 11 minutes to net the momentarily 1-1 goal after Falcao had put the Colchoneros one up. Pozuelo replaced Paraguayan legend Roque Santa Cruz as he deployed into the offensive department in a hybrid role between a striker and a playmaker.
- Real Betis vs Atletico Madrid — 2-4 (September 26, 2012 - La Liga)
The following season, Pozuelo and Betis failed to record a single point against Atletico as the club from Spain’s capital city secured two wins in both the first and second round games.
In the first encounter, Real Betis fell short in a 4-2 loss with Pozuelo, now wearing the no.11 shirt rather than the 35 like in the previous campaign, starting as a playmaker in a 4-2-3-1 formation behind forward Ruben Castro.
Pozuelo was subbed off six minutes into the second half as a rampant Falcao grabbed a brace to earn his side the three points.
- Atletico Madrid vs Real Betis — 1-0 (February 3, 2013 - La Liga)
In his final game against Atletico, Pozuelo entered the fray in the second 45 minutes as a playmaker, replacing Benat Extebarria on the 62nd minute but he failed to help his team recover from a Diego Costa goal as Atletico won 1-0.
Incidentally, both in this game and in the previous Atletico tie, Pozuelo was a teammate of Damian Perquis, a former Toronto FC defender who played 38 games for the MLS side during the 2015 and 2016 seasons.