Atlético Madrid capped off what was supposed to be a perfect weekend with a 3-1 win over Sevilla on Sunday. Combined with losses by Villarreal and Real Sociedad, Atlético opened up a seven-point advantage in the race for fourth place and zeroed in on Sevilla in third; the commanding display placed Atleti two points off the pace.
However, right back Šime Vrsaljko went off injured just two minutes into the match. The 25-year-old pulled up lame and sat on the Vicente Calderón pitch, and Diego Simeone immediately called for Juanfran to come on. Vrsaljko then walked off the pitch fiddling with his left knee and was helped into the dressing room.
Marca’s Alberto Barbero - one of the most plugged-in Atlético reporters - tweeted that pending tests tomorrow, Atlético believe that Vrsaljko’s previously confirmed ACL injury will keep him out for the rest of the season. Cadena SER’s Pedro Fullana has further reported that the injury is an ACL rupture, which would indeed rule him out into the 2017-18 season.
Should Atlético confirm this injury on Monday, it is a big blow for Simeone and an Atlético side which has really started to find its groove. Vrsaljko has been arguably the most impactful signing from last summer, and his absence would leave Juanfran as the only natural right back in the squad. As we’ve seen, Juanfran has slowed down some this season and recently returned from a month-long injury layoff. While he's not terrible and it’d be foolish not to believe the 32-year-old can do the job he has done so well in the past for the next couple months, should he fail to make the cut or even get hurt again, Simeone will be staying up nights searching for answers.