Atletico Madrid striker Mario Mandzukic has an ankle problem and will miss Tuesday's La Liga game at home to mid-table Real Sociedad, coach Diego Simeone said on Monday.
Atletico Madrid striker Mario Mandzukic has an ankle problem and will miss Tuesday’s La Liga game at home to mid-table Real Sociedad, coach Diego Simeone said on Monday.
Mandzukic made little impact for the champions in Saturday’s 2-0 win at bottom side Cordoba before making way for Fernando Torres after just over an hour and Simeone said the Croatia forward had been carrying the problem for several weeks.
Mandzukic had expressed a wish to take time out to recover properly, the Argentine added.
“I told him I was grateful to him because if he hadn’t told me anything at training he would have started (against Sociedad),” Simeone told a news conference.
“Mandzukic will not play and we are waiting for him for when he can take his place in the team again.”
Mandzukic has had a solid first season with Atletico since joining from Bayern Munich as a replacement for Brazil-born Spain forward Diego Costa, who left for Chelsea.
Known for his prowess in the air and his prickly temperament, the 28-year-old Croat has scored 12 goals in La Liga and five in the Champions League this term.
Atletico are third with nine games left, five points behind second-placed Real Madrid and one ahead of fourth-placed Valencia. Sevilla are a further three points adrift in fifth.
Simeone has long written off his team’s chances of capturing a second straight Spanish league title after they defied wealthy Real Madrid and Barcelona to claim their first in 18 years in 2013-14.
Third place and an automatic berth in the Champions League for next season is the club’s priority, Simeone reiterated on Monday.
“Our league consists of Valencia and a spectacular Sevilla,” he told reporters.
“There will be a very attractive competition between the three. Each game will be as if it were the last and those at the top end of the table cannot afford to get sloppy.”
Real, four points adrift of leaders Barca, play across town at Rayo Vallecano on Wednesday after Barca host Almeria.