Atletico Madrid have been dealt a big injury blow ahead of their Europa League semi final clash against Arsenal on Thursday, as Diego Simeone’s side will have to make the trip to London without star right back Juanfran.
The defender was substituted in the 65th minute of Atletico’s La Liga match with Real Betis on Sunday. The 33-year-old is expected to miss both legs of the semi final, as the club announced that he has suffered a hamstring injury.”Juanfran took tests which determined that our full back suffered an injury to the hamstring in his left leg,” read the statement, released by the Spanish club.
Croatian right back Sime Vrsaljko replaced Juanfran, and the 26-year-old is expected to be in the starting XI for the crucial fixtures with Arsenal.
The two time Europa League winners could also be without Diego Costa, when they travel to north London this week. The former Chelsea striker has also been sidelined with a hamstring injury and has not featured since the last round of the competition, two weeks ago.
Costa is reportedly keen to return for the semi final. And Simeone has not ruled the Spanish international out of Thursday’s clash, but admitted that a return for the second leg is a more likely.
“I think he has little chance of playing on Thursday in the first leg, but he will be back for the second,” said the Argentine manager, as quoted by Daily Mail.
The Atletico boss rested several players at the weekend, with the semi final in mind, but with an already small squad, the injuries have left Simeone with only 14 players at his disposal.
Atletico will play Arsenal at the Emirates on Thursday night, before welcoming the London side to Spain for the return leg the following week, as both sides bid for a place in the final against the winner of the clash between RB Salzburg and Marseille.