The international break will lead to some nervous physios at Atlético Madrid, whose first team squad has been trimmed to just 19 players after the departures of Yannick Carrasco and Nicolás Gaitán to the Chinese Super League.
With Filipe Luis facing a spell on the sidelines with a fractured shin bone, Diego Simeone has just 17 fit senior squad members for the remainder of the season. Any injuries sustained on international duty could prove very costly for Atlético, who play Real Madrid in the Bernabéu on April 8 and face a Europa League double-header against Sporting Lisbon on April 5 and 12.
The Brazilian left-back’s replacement, Atlético B defender Sergi, who was called into the first team squad this week, suffered a sprained ankle in training and could be out for a couple of weeks while the club are also attempting an appeal against a straight red card shown to Vitolo in the loss against Villarreal last weekend, which carries a possible three-game ban.
Atlético down to the bare bones ahead of Real Madrid derby
Excluding keepers Jan Oblak and Axel Werner and injured Juanfran, that leaves Simeone with just 15 outfield players available ahead of fixtures against Depor on April 1 and the derby a week later.
During the international break, 11 of Simeone’s squad are away with their national teams: Oblak, Sime Vrsaljko, Stefan Savic, Diego Godín, José Giménez, Lucas Hernández, Antoine Griezmann, Koke, Saúl, Diego Costa and Ángel Correa.
Remaining under Simeone’s orders in Madrid during the Fifa break are Werner, Juanfran, Gabi, Thomas Partey, Vitolo, Fernando Torres and Kevin Gameiro.
The expectation at Atlético is that given the latest round of internationals are just friendlies none of their star players will be compelled to play 180 minutes but national team coaches may see things differently with just three months until the World Cup.
Simeone will certainly be hoping that his 11 international players all return in one piece.