Barcelona and others made to sweat amidst fitness concerns
The butcher’s bill has arrived at the doorstep of clubs across Europe after the conclusion of the recent international break, with Barcelona and Juventus among outfits across the continent that have been made to suffer.
With international breaks increasingly being under the microscope given concerns about Covid-19, the additive fixture congestion seen across the recent period – which had any national teams playing three matches in six days – has had the appropriate scrutiny levied in its direction, especially with murmurings of a World Cup taking place every two years.
OFFICIAL: Tests carried out by the club today show that Sergiño Dest has suffered a sprain in his right ankle during the game between US and Canada on 5th September. No time-off specified. #FCB 🇺🇸⚠️
— Reshad Rahman ✆ (@ReshadRahman_) September 8, 2021
Barcelona, who parted ways with both Junior Firpo and Emerson Royal, are now made to contend without a single natural right-back after United States international Sergiño Dest picked up an ankle injury, while Moussa Wagúe remains unavailable until December.
Alphonso Davies comes off due to injury with 15 minutes left to play pic.twitter.com/DCU8U5MwyQ
— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) September 6, 2021
Juventus and Bayern Munich also took losses to key personnel over the break. Juve was faced with the prospect of being without the influential Federico Chiesa after the Italian international nearly pulled out of camp due to a muscle issue suffered in training, while Bayern is once again faced with an Alphonso Davies injury concern though it has been reported that it is not serious.
Fitness concerns highlight international break criticsm
In a footballing world where the reality of a biennial World Cup could genuinely come to fruition in the near future, increased frustration with constantly international breaks is sure to come to the fore once again.
As it stands, any player who represents his country – using Europe as an example – is made to deal with qualifying campaigns for both the World Cup and European Championship, the tournaments themselves, as well as the UEFA Nations League all while also playing meaningless friendlies in the process.
🗨️ Lage on fixture congestion: ❝Tottenham have the three days, Nottingham Forest continue to play at home & we are in the middle and no attention on us. My players, the club & the fans from Wolves, in the end, no-one thinks about us. That’s the only thing I want to say.❞ #WWFC pic.twitter.com/mrdAZKP4dQ
— Talking Wolves (@TalkingWolves) August 23, 2021
At current, some players can easily feature in a single combined campaign to the tune of over 60 matches if they remain fit for a full season. Player burn out and the associated fitness concerns of players being overworked – especially in the cause of the Premier League that has two domestic cup competitions and no winter break – is certainly a bridge too far a sport that is sliding down the slippery slope of valuing money and entertainment over protecting players.
Thankfully, Barcelona, Juventus, and Bayern Munich have not paid a heavy price this window, but the powers that be are certainly playing with fire and could quickly lose control if they are not careful.