ATLÉTICO

Héctor Herrera falls off the map at Atlético Madrid

The Mexican midfielder, who had managed to carve out a niche in Simeone’s team, has not featured in any of the team’s last eight games.

Héctor Herrera falls off the map at Atlético Madrid
CHEMA DIAZ DIARIO AS

Héctor Herrera seems to have vanished at Atlético. He hasn’t featured in any of the team’s last eight outings – either due to injury, technical decision or for being an unused sub. A muscular injury meant he lost his place in the side just as he had been gathering momentum. The Mexican midfielder had played 19 consecutive games – that’s a total of 1094 minutes, 92%of the total possible playing time. His performance in the 2-2 draw with Juventus on matchday 1 of the Champions League cemented his place in the side back in September – just as the tournament has launched Marcos Llorente – one of the heroes of Anfield, certainly one of the most surprising ones. Llorente’s rise to prominence has left Herrera with limited chances of winning his place back.

Felipe, the other player to have joined from Porto, does seem to have locked down his place in the starting line-up – he is looking every inch the boss in the back four and his place isn’t under threat – at least for the time being. That’s not the case with Herrera. Undoubtedly it’s because of the fierce competition for places in the centre of the park at Atleti. Thomas, Saúl and Koke look untouchable. Whenever there has been a spare place needing to be filled in midfield in recent weeks it has gone either to Correa or Llorente. Neither winter arrival Yannick Carrasco nor Vitolo have managed to carve out a regular place. Herrera did up until his injury in the derby against Real Madrid at the Bernabéu. Since then he has missed six games and spent one on the bench and another watching from the stands.

Herrera given watching brief by Simeone

The game he watched from the stands was at Anfield, in which Simeone took the whole squad over to Liverpool then dropped five players from the list on the eve of the game – all of them from the first team squad. It looks like Atleti’s injury crisis is over - only Morata, who picked up a hamstring injury against Liverpool, is now the only player in the sickbay so there is no need for El Cholo to dip into the reserves. Competition for place is rife and for now it is looking like Herrera doesn’t figure in Simeone’s plans.