Merely three days after Atlético Madrid’s treatment room emptied for the first time all year, at least two Rojiblancos will need some kind of medical attention as the season’s final international break winds down.
Héctor Herrera returned from international duty with Mexico on Wednesday after playing three World Cup qualifiers within six days. After experiencing muscular discomfort, tests Thursday revealed he has sustained a fresh hamstring injury.
This setback, Herrera’s fifth muscle injury since joining Atlético in 2019, is another stroke of bad luck for the Mexican. He had started Atleti’s past seven games, the longest such run he has enjoyed under Diego Simeone, and had played well enough to deserve that string of opportunities. The 31-year-old has completed better than 80 percent of his passes five times in the past seven games and plugged gaps defensively, especially during the Manchester United tie.
But that isn’t all. João Félix trained with left shoulder discomfort on Thursday after returning from Portugal duty and could not participate fully in the session. With the game against Alavés roughly 48 hours away, Simeone might deem it necessary to rest the 22-year-old (who has also started Atlético’s past seven matches) in preparation for the first leg at Man City next Tuesday.
Atleti have won only one of the last seven instances in which João has been named a substitute.
Defender Mario Hermoso also worked away from the group on Thursday, per Belén Sánchez García — meaning Simeone could be without as many as five players on Saturday taking Koke and Ángel Correa’s suspensions into account. While the two suspended players will return for the Etihad Stadium visit, Yannick Carrasco will miss out as he completes his own suspension from European competition.
Let’s see how El Cholo responds to yet-more selection problems.