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Azpilicueta sends FIFA message after Chelsea injuries ahead of World Cup

Azpilicueta has cited the World Cup as a factor for the rise in injuries as more players drop out before the tournament.

Cesar Azpilicueta believes that the winter World Cup has already caused massive issues with this seasons football before the tournament has even started.

The Premier League will break up for players to go to Qatar in just over three weeks with a six week hiatus for the carnival of international football to take place. It has meant that domestic leagues across the world are being impacted with increasingly crammed schedules in the lead up.

Teams playing in European competitions in England will have played three matches per week for eight weeks straight by the time the final fixtures are played preceding the competition on November 12th and 13th. By that point, Chelsea will have played 14 matches in six weeks.

This is coming off the back of a reduced pre-season which itself followed a hectic 2021/22 season after a delayed European Championships. There will now be a run of three major international tournaments across four years, adding increased pressure on players.

Given the already packed calendar that players are working with and the higher intensity of matches, with more European and international football, it is not surprising that player injuries are becoming more consistent.

Chelsea themselves have had a torrid couple of years with long-term injuries. Last season they had Reece James and Ben Chilwell out in long-term blows. Callum Hudson-Odoi’s season effectively stopped short and Ruben Loftus-Cheek has battled for fitness ever since 2019.

This season and N’Golo Kante will be out for four more months having not played since August, James will be missing for eight weeks and possibly ruled out of the World Cup whilst Mateo Kovacic has had consistent setbacks himself. Wesley Fofana is also out until after the World Cup.

This isn’t the only case of trouble in the league either. Manchester United saw France defender Raphael Varane hobble off in tears as hopes of making Qatar hang in the balance, Didier Deschamps’ side has been plagued with injuries leading up to the tournament.

Chelsea captain Azpilicueta has tried to explain the blows, saying, “It’s difficult and it’s sad because as players you want to go to the World Cup, but we have this schedule where we have to play for our club and do our best. We are fighting a lot for player welfare because the schedule is crazy.

“Sometimes we have to consider everything and I think we are in conversations with FIFA. It’s difficult because I understand that the fans want to see football. We have five subs now but we have in our team a couple of injuries that make it more difficult to rotate. We are playing every few days, but it’s how it is and we have to step up.”

This has ultimately stemmed from a world where more football and an insatiable desire for more means that players are pushed into their red zones more often, making injuries more likely. This season won’t go back to normal post-World Cup and there is no current idea what the repercussions might be from it.


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