London — a few weeks ago The players who will represent Wales at this summer’s European Championships have started reporting. Their coaching staff set up an unwritten rule: Try if possible, not to mention the F-word.
Not that the word was expressly forbidden. more discouraged “We don’t want it to be a factor,” said Tony Strudwick, the team’s head of operations. “We do not use the word We are not talking about fatigue.”
Public conversations may seem like an excuse. Talking about this personally might make players wonder. Of course, that doesn̵7;t mean that Strudwick and his colleagues and other top teams In a world facing a summer full of champions I don’t think about it most of the time.
Fatigue is often a factor in big tournaments. The European Championships and the Copa America and the World Cup came to the end of a long and arduous club campaign. They compete with each other by the most successful players. which is an employee of the best club team who rarely had the opportunity to take a break of more than two weeks before reporting on duty internationally.
But there’s rarely a shadow of fatigue hanging as low in the tournament as this summer. which arrived in a concise and abbreviated calendar by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. in most countries Usually a 10-month season is this year, packed with only eight months.
Several players involved in the Euros — and the Copa America, the South American champions — have been playing nonstop since last June. Some people are starting to feel it. Spanish midfielder Marcos Llorente is working hard. Confessed earlier this month that In the final game of the season against Atletico Madrid, he was unable to leave the pitch. “The brain needs more. But the body says no,” he said.
France’s world champions coach Didier Deschamps warned three months ago that his star team, the favorites to win the European Championship, are at risk of physical and mental exhaustion. He said his top priority when putting his team together at the end of last month was to ensure there was The “oil in the engine” is enough to survive the deadline that – if all goes according to plan – will total seven games in 30 days.
England manager Gareth Southgate admits he must be careful not to “Destroy these players,” said Roberto Martinez, the Belgian coach. The world’s top team suggested after his side drew with Greece in a tweaked game that his players were struggling to find competition.
And while Strudwick and his Welsh colleagues may not have spoken about it. Its fatigue and threats were embedded in their plans. They have designed a training program to take into account. They have imposed more downtime to prevent it. Which player is considered pushing too close to the limit? will find that their training system has been checked. their workload is reduced.
They and other coaches Know that Euro 2020 results may not depend on strategy or style. more tactical or technical than ever It may depend on the body, what Strudwick calls the battle of “Freshness vs. Fatigue” This is the tournament for the last team standing.
The explanation for that is clear. Players summoned from 24 nations who will compete in inevitable tournaments, according to sports analytics consultancy Twenty First Group, spent more time on the field than last season on average, more than they did on the pitch. normal situation .
But they all played more games in a shorter amount of time – a Twenty First Group study found that some people will enter a match playing more than 200 minutes or three more games than their equivalent at the 2018 World Cup – and just as important. together with much less recovery time.
Prior to the last European Championships in 2016, players had an average of 4.5 days of rest between games. This time, that number has dropped to 3.9 days, according to the study. For some major countries, the numbers are still more dominant: players representing Spain, France, England and Italy, on average, only have 3.5 days between matches this season.
For Strudwick, that’s just part of the story. while the various leagues And regulators are scrambling to compensate for the area lost from the first wave of the pandemic. There is little or no break between the end of the 2019-20 season and the start of the 2020-21 edition, in some cases an extension of up to two weeks.
“There was almost no free time,” Strudwick said. “Usually there are seasons. Take the international break, cut in the middle and then you go again, this time it’s just a small break and then into next season. with games every three or four days and very dense international intervals.”
Rather, the effect is not difficult to predict. Preliminary readings suggest that, more than anyone else, England is at risk of the effects of fatigue. The team’s members have played more than anyone else this season, averaging 3,700 or 40 games, eight more than a regular player at Euros.
That could be a result of the Premier League’s decision not to follow the rest of Europe by allowing the team to use five substitutes this season. It is no coincidence that five of the six players who have seen the most action this year play in the English top flight. (Although the overall lead is Netherlands midfielder Frenkie De Jong, playing for Barcelona in Spain)
But its impact may be offset by the fact that only one country on the pitch – Turkey – has called for a team younger than Southgate’s squad. England may be slightly more susceptible to fatigue than France, Portugal and Germany. But the British team is clearly younger. On the other hand, Belgium has the most experienced team in the tournament. But the distance is much less.
It’s possible that fatigue – the kind that disproportionately affects traditional favorites – could serve as a great equalizer. The fact that celebrities A lot of running away from the smoke could make the tournament more exciting. rather than to diminish
That’s Strudwick’s reasoning, of course. “It’s not going to form,” he said. It might be in the cards for a lesser-known team. It will be whoever uses their team, stays fresh and leads the way best.”
Of course, Strudwick was not an arrogant observant person. Wells had reason to hope he was right. The team had a few standout performers – Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey – but didn’t play as much as they would have liked this season, with both Bale (for Tottenham) and Ramsey (for Juventus). Herodotus) have not passed 1,500 minutes of the match for their club. in theory Both should be fresher than usual.
However, there is another potential problem in those heavy loads. It’s not that the player’s physical condition makes the competition more open. but will make it more dangerous
Jonas Baer-Hoffmann The general secretary of FIFPro, the global players union, said: “There is a correlation between injury prevalence and lack of recovery.”
“This season some of the top players have played up to 80 per cent of the competition without the right time to recover,” he added. “We have seen the effects of certain types of injuries typical of fatigue, of course we hope the players are healthy and playing their best. But after a year as we have The truth is that the risk of injury is high.”
That’s what Strudwick and his colleagues do. classmate and his competitors feared the most. It’s something that they spend weeks and months trying to prevent or at least mitigate. They probably didn’t mention the exhaustion and all the threats that posed. But they will think about it every day next month. until there was only one left in the end and finally able to rest