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Iker Muniain out for remainder of season (Athletic Club)

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A season-ending knee injury, and he probably won't be back until a couple of months into next season. Allen explains why this is potentially important for Villarreal.

Muniain in action against Espanyol in the Copa semifinal
Muniain in action against Espanyol in the Copa semifinal
Alex Caparros/Getty Images

Iker Muniain suffered what looked to be a serious knee injury against Sevilla last Saturday, and now that the swelling has gone down and an MRI has been performed, it's been confirmed the player has suffered a significant anterior cruciate injury.

This is bad news for Los Leones; they had won five in a row in the league to pull to within five points of Malaga before last weekend.   As you know if you've watched them, Athletic are a different team with Muniain in there; he's only scored once this season, but he is the fellow who creates the chances for Aduriz, and wins a lot of corners through his skillful play as well.

When he was last out of action (suspended a couple of times), Athletic Club had three draws and five losses (all competitions).  Admittedly those included matches against Valencia, Atleti and Villarreal, but then again, their remaining schedule includes....Valencia, Atleti, and Villarreal.

Athletic Club had to be figuring their best chance for Europe would have been to defeat Barcelona in the Copa del Rey final on May 30; that task, too, will be tougher without their best player.    I'd say the odds of seventh place in La Liga grabbing that final Europa League place just got a lot shorter, giving some comfort to Malaga and Villarreal as well as they play their remaining nine matches (remember, we finish our season at the new San Mamés).

And since he's unlikely to return to action until at least November, don't look for a bustling start next season from Los Leones, either.