Atletico Madrid have been left with no fit centre-backs ahead of Saturday’s La Liga game at home to Athletic Bilbao, with midfielder Saul Niguez suggesting the state of the recently laid pitch at the Wanda Metropolitano stadium was behind a run of muscle problems in the squad.
Defender Jose Maria Gimenez left Tuesday’s 2-0 Champions League Group A win over Borussia Dortmund at half-time with a thigh muscle injury, while Atletico confirmed on Wednesday that his centre-back partner on the night, Lucas Hernandez, had finished the game with an adductor problem.
Atletico were already without injured centre-backs Diego Godin and Stefan Savic for Tuesday’s game, meaning that 19-year-old youth team player Francisco Montero came off the bench at the break to make his Champions League debut.
Midfielders Koke and Thomas Lemar, as well as forward Diego Costa, have also been sidelined with muscle injuries, and Saul told Movistar Plus that the players had concerns about the condition of the pitch at their new stadium.
“The pitch is a factor, at a new stadium it is not in the best condition and you see that,” he said. “We slip and each time you run a risk. But despite all the problems I will stick to the positive, even with a short squad the team responded and is improving.”
Ahead of Athletic’s visit to the Wanda, Godin picked up his recovery process in training on Wednesday morning but has yet to be given the all clear to play.