Portugal midfielder Tiago looks set to miss the rest of the season and possibly UEFA EURO 2016 after breaking his leg. Our man in Madrid assesses who could fill the void for Atlético.
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Atlético Madrid's ambitions for 2015/16 have suffered a huge setback after Tiago suffered a broken leg against Espanyol on Saturday.
The Portugal midfielder, ever-present in the Liga and UEFA Champions League this season, suffered the blow in a challenge with Marco Asensio and was taken to hospital where worst fears were confirmed. The 34-year-old could miss the rest of the campaign, and even his presence at UEFA EURO 2016 is now in doubt.
So how will Atlético cope without an individual Diego Simeone reckons is "the player who interprets our tactical play the best"? Unquestionably his absence leaves a huge void in the midfield, but the Rojiblancos do have a couple of options:
Saúl Ñiguez – an intelligent midfielder as capable in a holding role as he is further up the pitch. He started alongside Tiago on Saturday as captain Gabi was suspended, and Simeone identified the 21-year-old after the match as a candidate to replace Tiago. Simeone has said before that Saúl is "the future of Atlético". Maybe his time is now.
Matías Kranevitter – a talented midfield anchor who signed for the club in August from River Plate, he will link up with his new team-mates in January after the FIFA Club World Cup. The 22-year-old was a mainstay in River's Copa Libertadores win earlier this year and already has three caps for Argentina. He has excellent positional sense and passing range.