Champions League, Europa League, Conference League, Qualifiers, Nations League, and sometimes friendlies in the United States, continental tournaments, well, the players don’t stop in a calendar year, and they’ve had enough.
Recently, Kevin de Bruyne, Bernardo Silva, and Mohamed Salah spoke out about the number of games they are exposed to and criticised several of the tournaments that have been set up in recent times.
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A team normally plays League and Cup, but if you qualify for continental tournaments, you have to add one more, and if you are selected, then qualifiers and Nations League, which is an invention to make the International FIFA Matchdays more interesting.
The aim of the International Break was to prepare teams for the four-year qualifiers, but many teams did not lend their stars, and the games lost importance, so the continental federations came up with the idea of making a league, but of national teams, so that those international matches would count for something.
This meant that teams were somewhat obliged to call up their best players, who already have a heavy workload with their clubs, to play in a new tournament. Obviously, players risk their physicality and suffer more injuries and get less rest.
Before, players did not suffer with so many commitments. They went with their national team a couple of times a year and concentrated on their clubs, and enjoyed a longer holiday period.
Now, there are times when they finish the local tournament and have to fly to report immediately to play a continental cup or a friendly on the other side of the world. Their rest is minimal and at the end of their participation, they have to return for pre-season training with the club.
There are periods where they can go a couple of years without rest, like this World Cup cycle where last year they had the Copa América, European Championship, Asian Cup, African Cup, and CONCACAF Gold Cup, as well as the Olympic Games.
The players didn’t stop, and now this year is the FIFA World Cup and the summer, which in theory could have been a rest period, was used to shoehorn in a Nations League that could well backfire on FIFA’s objectives.
What will happen?
There are already several players who have already spoken out about it and feel that the number of matches is being abused a little. They understand that there is a need to sell a product, but they are the ones who, in the end, have to get on the pitch to compete.
De Bruyne said the new Nations League was unnecessary and not important. It just takes time away from them and makes them play games that have no relevance whatsoever. Two extra weeks of competition after a long and difficult season to play overrated friendlies is silly for the Belgium international.
Bernardo Silva said the same thing, feeling that these matches have no importance and that they would prefer the rest in order to arrive well for the pre-season and subsequent campaign.
More and more players are opposed to more games, and next season the Champions League changes its format and more games will be played. The World Cup increases the number of participants, and this means more and more games. Is it exaggerating? Will the players reveal themselves?