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Saúl Ñíguez injured on Spain U-21 duty

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Because of course he was.

Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images

Boy, things aren't really going Atlético Madrid's way at the moment, are they?

The Spanish national team's official Twitter account confirmed late Friday that Saúl Ñíguez sustained a sprained ankle while playing for Spain's Under-21 team. A release on Spain's website revealed that Atlético's young star midfielder sprained the ankle, his left, during Thursday's 3-0 loss to Croatia's U-21 side. Saúl will not travel to Murcia with his teammates for their next game, against Norway on Monday. The release says nothing about Saúl's status for upcoming games with Atleti, as expected.

With this news, we can now say that Atleti are in the throes of a full-on injury crisis. In addition to being down three center backs - although Diego Godín is still expected to return for the first leg of the Champions League quarterfinals - Diego Simeone now must contend with the prospect of Saúl missing multiple weeks (naturally encompassing the April 5 visit to Camp Nou) with a bum ankle. Even though Tiago is (miraculously) back in training, it would be stunning to see him match-fit in 10 days. Augusto Fernández was in Simeone's XI the last time Atleti traveled to Barcelona, but Augusto cannot replicate Saúl's bustling box-to-box play. Basically, the already-slim chance Atleti have at knocking out Barcelona withers away completely without Saúl.

That said, let's hope the sprain is minor and the canterano misses only this weekend's home game against Real Betis.