Atletico Madrid striker Mario Mandzukic has been ruled out indefinitely with an ankle injury.
Diego Simeone informed the media that the player has been carrying the knock for the past ten games but elected to continue playing in spite of the pain.
The manager also revealed that if Mandzukic had not personally sat him down to discuss the magnitude of the problem, Simeone would have started him against Real Sociedad today.
The Argentine boss praised the Croatian’s commitment to the team but gave no indication as to when he would return to Atletico’s lineup.
“He has been injured for ten games,” Simeone said during his pre-match press conference. “As everyone saw, he played 88 minutes in pain against [Bayer] Leverkusen, showing great spirit and commitment to the team.
“How’s this for class? [Sunday] there was a knock at my door. Mario walks in with an interpreter, because I obviously don’t speak his language. Showing a huge amount of class, befitting the extraordinary player he is, he said, ‘My ankle is sore and I’m not coming up with the goods. I’m not in the condition that the team needs me to be.’
“I told him: ‘I’m really grateful to you for telling me, because if I’d have seen you come in to training like normal, you’d be in the starting lineup again, because I view you as a starter.”
The loss of Mandzukic comes at a bad time of Atletico as they hold only a slight one-point advantage over fourth place Valencia, with Sevilla only four points off the pace in fifth place in La Liga.
Diego Godin, Miguel Angel Moya and Raul Garcia will also be sidelined for the match against Real Sociedad due to injury, while Juanfran is suspended for the game.
With nine matches remaining every game is vital towards Atletico’s quest to finish in a Champions League position. Simeone will need some of his lesser used individuals to step up and perform in the absence of these these key players.
Programming note: Atletico Madrid vs. Real Sociedad can be seen LIVE today starting at 1:55pm EST on beINSPORTS en Espańol and fuboTV.
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