WORLD CUP – World Cup in Qatar and specter of injuries, myth or reality?

Before facing FC Barcelona and suffering a gruesome injury-time defeat to an inevitable Robert Lewandowski goal (1-0), Valencia CF captain José Gayà had reacted to the opportunity at the first World Cup of his career to be there … in the middle of the European autumn. “It is not common, but it will be necessary to adaptexplained the 27-year-old defender. We knew for a long time that it would take place in Qatar, so we prepared in the preseason that the World Cup wouldn’t disrupt our momentum.

Finally among the 26 lucky winners on the list compiled by Luis Enrique, Gayà ended the first part of the Valencia CF season in peak physical condition. And yet the worst happened for the Spain defender, who picked up an ankle injury in training this week. A decision on his case is expected to come this Friday, but Spanish dailies such as AS believe the left-back will lose the competition.

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The defender may well join a list that continues to grow as the days go by. Amine Harit and Bartlomiej Dragowski saw their World Cup dreams come to an end last weekend after serious injuries, other profiles such as Sadio Mané, N’Golo Kanté, Reece James or Timo Werner will also not be there because they have strained their bodies for more than reason , because I play almost every three days. “At the moment in every game there is an injured person who will miss the World Cuplamented Bruno Genesio when Rennes-AEK Larnaca left the Europa League on November 3. What we’re showing players with this calendar isn’t human.

This observation of exploitation of footballers, noted long ago by Pep Guardiola, is becoming all the more clear with this upcoming World Cup in Qatar. Therefore, federations are expected to take precautions to minimize the risk of injury during competition. “The most important thing for employees is to ask themselves:Where are our players from?‘ notes first and foremost Xavier Amen, physiotherapist and athletic trainer.

“You have to analyze their origins, meaning their national championship and their club, and do a general inventory. Communication between an association and a club must be optimal in order to discuss the player or players that can be selected is the cornerstone of an association’s success at the World Cup. as the post-tournament period is of paramount importance, there are serious deadlines with big deadlines ahead and sums of money at stake.

In the midst of this relationship between club and selection, the footballer himself is confronted with the reality of his own World Cup. From then on the growing desire to represent his country in the most prestigious international competitions prevailed and the club had to act accordingly.

sadio mane

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With barely a week to soak up the local climate, the injury risk estimate will go up

Geographically, the change from the European continental climate to the Qatari desert climate means anticipation at club level. “Temperature fluctuations and acclimatization will change the biological process in every footballercontinues Xavier Amen. For Northern Hemisphere players, this is a factor to consider. These footballers will have extra stress for the same task. Normally, the body needs time to adapt to new conditions. With barely a week to soak up the local climate, the injury risk estimate will go up.” he analyses.

“For this World Cup, clubs have prepared accordingly, via thermal training rooms, to make efforts in intense heat to limit the risk of injury and encourage rapid adaptation. But with the same effort, the feeling that the player can be completely different will not adapt in the way Griezmann did. The transition between the start of the break and the start of the World Cup has to be mastered well with injury pain. If the staff work well, some players could gradually increase their strength in order to achieve their best performance at the end of the competition. This is one possible strategy. Sleep, rest, stress management, hydration and nutrition are also fundamental to this reduce risk of injury. “

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uThere, the training programs must be followed conscientiously in order to minimize the risk of convalescence. “The basic principles of training a top athlete are continuity, progressiveness, saturation, variety, individualization and specificity, lists Xavier Amen. Association athletic coaches know this and will organize themselves in close collaboration with the coach to apply these principles in training to generate effort but also to monitor the effects. For optimal performance at a World Cup, you need to control the effort and the impact. Everyone has a different charge.”

Then it’s important to know your body and the players. “If the load changes too suddenly, the risk of injury increases. In doing so, it is fundamental to control the fees attributed to the players. The charge is an effort. And effort also takes psychology into account, explains Xavier Amen again. “There’s the physical exertion of carrying weight, but also the mental exertion of adjusting to the weather. Whether the training takes place in dry heat or in the snow is not the same. Whether the game is a Champions League final or a game against a soft underbelly Ligue 1 team, it’s not the same either. Running 90 minutes in a game doesn’t require the same effort as running 30 minutes in a game. do the same game and a 60-minute training session to compensate. Effort is always subject to a context where nervousness can be variable in its geometry. The athletic trainer must therefore customize effort so that each player benefits from the desired effects for performance purposes.

Karim Benzema, in training with the Blues on November 14

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In the last three or four weeks, footballers have changed their way of thinking

Most recently, Sadio Mané’s injury at Bayern Munich caused a stir. Called up to defend Senegal’s colors at the World Cup, the number 10 had come under pressure from his employer, particularly his coach. “If he’s in pain and can’t play, he won’t play, even if the federation wanted it warned Julian Nagelsmann at a press conference last weekend. If a player is injured and cannot play, they cannot play. Health comes before sport, that’s the most important thing.“The Bayern striker finally had to give up.

Footballers subconsciously changed their way of thinking for three or four weeksthinks Xavier Amen. This change can affect the perceived stress, because the stress level increases, the excitement is noticeable. There are riots and non-sporting issues that everyone is talking about. In the midst of all this, footballers are caught in this storm. With the usual level of training, this can lead to overloading, since the psychological conditions are different for the players.

Ultimately, the issue of Mané is complex. “I don’t think Bayern are to blame, but players like Mané are not insensitive to an upcoming mid-season World Cup. But you can estimate the risk of injury.” impossible to prevent the injury.“For a first World Cup in autumn, we must therefore rely on the professionalism of everyone and avoid putting passion before reason. Easier said than done…

Lionel Messi and Julian Alvarez

Photo credit: Getty Images

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