Longtime readers of Into the Calderón know that I don’t care much for the international break. Never have. I think the football calendar is overstuffed as it is and has long been a danger to players. International qualifiers are often bereft of drama, while friendlies only exist to fill in space every three days (when players need to be resting/recuperating) and make money for the game’s corporate overlords.
In short — international breaks suck. But the one cool thing about the international breaks as currently constituted is...they end.
One week from Saturday, Atlético de Madrid visit Balaídos to take on Celta Vigo as part of matchday 10 action across LaLiga EA Sports — and Los Colchoneros are in position to welcome back multiple squad players from injury ahead of the trip to Galicia.
Pablo Barrios is on the verge of a return to action after he suffered a hamstring injury during last month’s draw at Lazio in the Champions League — during which the 20-year-old scored his first goal for the senior team. Barrios has missed each of Atlético Madrid’s past five games, but he is expected to be in the squad next week — and Diego Simeone will have to decide the best way to re-integrate him into the side, seeing as the now-fit Koke has taken up the #5 role.
Simeone was in Turkey this week to visit old friend Arda Turan, so that's where we’ll head next. Turkey national team defender Çağlar Söyüncü is set for his own return to full training after a groin injury ruled him out of Atlético’s past seven games, reducing El Cholo’s defense to bare bones. The sturdy Söyüncü has played in only two games this season and none since the calendar flipped to September, so his availability as a strong header of the ball with an above-average passing will be most welcome.
Netherlands international Memphis Depay has already suffered two injuries this season, the latest a foot problem that ruled him out of Atlético’s past four games. The medical team is being cautious with the Dutch forward, who has played just 13 games since joining the club in January, and his status for the Celta game is not as clear relative to Barrios and Söyüncü.
Ángel Correa (knee) and José Giménez (foot) stayed in Madrid rather than heading off to join their national teammates, but it does not sound much like either player will be risked for Balaídos next weekend. Reinildo Mandava (ACL tear) has been ramping up his recovery at the club facilities in Majadahonda outside of the city center, and he could potentially rejoin his teammates by the start of November.