In recent times, the football world has seen a number of players getting injured and even complaining about exhaustion. The nature of the injuries is also scary as a number of players seem to be picking up serious long term injuries which are potentially career-ending.
Despite the advancement of sports science, the susceptibility to both fatigue and injuries may be around for quite some time. In most leagues around Europe, the clubs involved often play 50+ games per season with the top clubs potentially playing up to 65+ games.
The top clubs are involved in three to five competitions per season and if they manage to reach as far as possible in all then the number of games played can be quite demanding and over-bearing on the players. Along with games at the club level, there are international friendlies as well as international competitive qualifiers.
After a long and gruelling season, especially in the Premier League where there are no easy games, the World Cup, European Championship and Copa America are held. It adds to the number of games for the season and there is also the Africa Cup of Nations during the season which is also a distraction for some players.
The advantage of modern day football is that there are sports scientists that can advise the coaching staff and players in how many games they can play at the optimum level, how long they should play in certain games at a certain time of the season, the amount of rest required, the best diet/nutritional choices, etc.
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However, with the amount of money being spent and also available to be won, there may be risks taken as to the number of games players are involved in. With this hectic schedule at club level combined with fulfilling international duty, it may have led to several players picking up injuries.
The change in training regime in terms of intensity and tactics can take a toll on the human body leaving it extremely tired and of course more susceptible to injuries. There are several club managers who have pleaded with international managers not to select their players especially after a long hard season.
Last season Diego Costa had a troubled hamstring and was still being thrown into the fire by Diego Simeone, as Atletico Madrid was chasing La Liga and Champions League glory. They managed to capture the La Liga crown but his involvement when he wasn’t fully fit may have harm his performance at the World Cup and contributed to his recent struggles at Chelsea.
Raheem Sterling also complained about being tired while on international duty after a 50+ game season last year, the World Cup and of course Premier League and Champions League football this season.
Draining and Demanding
Modern day football is very demanding with almost every player on the pitch expected to cover every blade of grass. Even the strikers today are told to press the ball as high up the pitch as possible or to drop off on the dictator of the opposition in an effort to plug the supply lines.
Athletic is a word used quite often in football today with most, if not all, coaches seeking players who are mobile, agile and have the ability to cover the ground well and quickly. It does take a lot of energy from the players to fulfill their roles in every game and to play 50+ games plus a tournament after will leave some tired brain, muscles, tendons and ligaments.
Legends Have Shown The Way
Legends such as Paul Scholes, Francesco Totti and Ryan Giggs have pointed to the fact that their early retirement from international duty may have prolonged their club careers. It surely allowed them time to get adequate rest at the end of each season, as well as during the international breaks throughout the season.
Totti is still playing today and is very important to AS Roma while Scholes and Giggs’ contribution to Manchester United’s success until their final second for the club was huge. Paolo Maldini also had an extended career after giving up international duty and was brilliant for AC Milan until he finally hang up his boots.
Time and time again we have seen managers and board members of different clubs calling for FIFA to limit the number of international friendlies and to limit the number of games as much as possible.
In recent times knee injuries, ligament damage, groin problems, ankle and other muscular injuries have increased with many experts believing that the workload on the players is a big factor. At the moment there is no solution to limit the number games played therefore this may be around for longer than we would have liked.