Just when it appeared Atlético Madrid were turning a corner and on course to salvage a terrible 2021/22 season, the injury bug bit once more — and it bit hard.
Mario Hermoso’s adductor problem became Atlético’s 36th injury this season when it was announced Wednesday. That total is tied with Valencia for the second-highest in LaLiga, behind Real Madrid and FC Barcelona. Hermoso, who has fallen out of favor since Reinildo Mandava’s arrival on Jan. 31, will be among several players out for this Sunday’s showdown with Copa del Rey finalists Real Betis — possibly the biggest game of Atlético’s season so far.
Diego Simeone will not be able to count on center-back Stefan Savić (suspended/muscular overload) or central midfielder Geoffrey Kondogbia (thigh injury) for the trip to the Benito Villamarín. Matheus Cunha and Daniel Wass (knee ligament sprains) remain shelved for the near future, while Koke only returned to training on Thursday after missing the past two games with his own muscular issue.
In all, Atlético players have suffered 29 muscular injuries and seven trauma-induced injuries during the 2021/22 season. Nineteen different players have been injured throughout the year, and Savić has “led the way” with five separate injuries since last July — his problems beginning just months after making a career-high 33 league appearances to help Atleti to the title.
Elsewhere, Kondogbia has been absent through four separate injuries, the same as Marcos Llorente. One season after scoring 12 goals and setting up 11 more in 37 league games, Llorente has been unable to stay on the field regularly — his multiple muscular ailments have cost him over three months of action, and he has only a solitary assist to his name in 1,490 LaLiga minutes played.
Atlético are hoping Kondogbia and Savić return for the second leg of the Champions League tie with Manchester United on March 15. They may well be fit enough to play two weeks from today. But that’s beside the point.
This marks the third season across the past four in which Atlético’s squad has had to weather 30-plus injuries, and there remain at least 13 games to go in this one. Longtime chief physio Óscar Ortega signed a new contract to 2024 over the summer, but serious questions have needed to be asked about El Profe and his team for some time, such as: “when will Atleti explore replacing them with a new medical staff?”