It’s been a long, hard season for Premier League players. Most of them have struggled with the physical demands, and even more so with the mental burden of the grueling campaign. They have had to contend with an increased workload, and not just in terms of training. Long trips to away games have taken their toll, as has the psychological pressure of the yellow cards piled up during the season. With the season over, players can now enjoy a well-deserved summer off.
To keep the English Premier League’s top stars motivated, and to ensure that players are well-prepared for the FIFA Uefa Euro 2020, UEFA’s official international club competition, head coach of the England national team Gareth Southgate has decided to make the UEFA Champions League final “a dress rehearsal” for next year’s competition.
Following a long and gruelling season, many of the Premier League players will be itching to get away from the football pitch.. Read more about premier league fitness test results and let us know what you think.England’s Harry Kane, Portugal’s Bruno Fernandes and Belgium’s Kevin de Bruyne are all aiming for European Championship glory after a long and gruelling Premier League season. A matchless season as matches were dropped to accommodate the postponed Euro 2020 in the summer. Club teams have been forced to play regularly three times a week and now national teams competing for the European Championships face the prospect of playing up to seven games in 31 days. But which nations will feel the pressure of such a test format immediately after a hectic and brutal 2020-21 season? We looked at some statistics to find out.
Health risk to the player
The warning could not have been clearer. The intense match schedule not only threatens the players’ health but also threatens their performance at the European Championship and the 2022 World Cup, the global players’ union Fifpro said in November. Footballers already suffer from fatigue due to the constant cycle of matches, back-to-back games and lack of rest and recovery during the summer, putting them at increased risk of stress and injury. The coronavirus pandemic has delayed the end of the 2019-20 season, leading to a compressed 2020-21 campaign – but with the number of games more or less unchanged, the end of the season has become an endurance race. That physicality no doubt played a part in the long list of players who will miss the masterpiece this summer. Virgil van Dijk (Netherlands), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Sweden), Sergio Ramos (Spain) and Marc-Andre ter Stegen (Germany) are among those injured, while Marco Reus (Germany) said his body needed rest after a difficult and gruelling season. Trent Alexander-Arnold is out with a hip injury sustained in Wednesday’s practice match against Austria, while teammates Jordan Henderson and Harry Maguire are doubtful. Injuries are taking their toll at the end of a season in which Premier League teams have been busy. 10 England players will make at least 46 appearances for their club in the 2020-21 season. The two clubs from Manchester have played each other more than 60 times. In May, United played four games in eight days, including a draw in Italy, while Chelsea took part in 59 games and Arsenal and Tottenham played one less. The numbers in brackets indicate the number of players from each team that is part of the Euro 2020 squad.
Youth or experience?
No player in the top five European leagues – Premier League, La Liga, Serie A, Bundesliga and Ligue 1 – played more games for his club last season than Manchester United midfielder Bruno Fernandes. He played in 58 of United’s 61 games – and also played eight times for the Portuguese national team – but in January he waved away any suggestion of fatigue. Are you tired? At 26 years old, I can’t get tired, Fernandes said. If I’m tired now, I won’t be able to play when I’m 30 or 32, or I’ll only play one game out of five. No, I’m not tired. If a player’s age can be used as a simplistic measure of fitness, that’s good news for England and Wales, who have the second and third youngest squads respectively. Wales, like England, have eight players aged 22 or under until an injury to Alexander-Arnold takes him out of the game and Gareth Southgate will not approve a replacement until Sunday. Turkey has the youngest team with an average age of 24.58 per player, while top-ranked Belgium has the oldest team with 28.73. With 10 players aged 30 and over, this summer’s championship could be the last chance for their golden generation to win a trophy. The Swedish team would have been the oldest had 39-year-old striker Ibrahimovic not been injured. Pepe, a 38-year-old Portuguese defender, is the oldest player in the tournament. Polish defender Kacper Kozlowski is the youngest and one of two 17-year-old players, the other being Jude Bellingham from England. Scotland have the ninth oldest squad with 26.96, although there is only one player over 30 on the pitch and the averages are skewed by goalkeepers David Marshall (36), Craig Gordon (38) and John McLaughlin (33). The wait is over – follow our report from Euro 2020
One aspect in England’s favour is the format itself. The European Championship will be played in 11 cities, but Gareth Southgate’s side could play six of its seven games at Wembley. If they finish their group as winners and advance, at best they can go to the quarterfinals in Rome, after which they will return to London. Wales would be happy with such a scheme. They travel further east beyond Iraq, Syria and most of Saudi Arabia to Azerbaijan for two games before hosting Italy in Rome. If they finish second, they may return to Baku for the quarter-finals. Switzerland faces the same energy-intensive route Baku-Rome-Baku, and then possibly London or Amsterdam. Belgium will also be wary of long flights as they have two away games at the start of the tournament, against Russia in St Petersburg and Denmark in Copenhagen, before returning to Russia. A win in Group B means Roberto Martinez’s side will travel from northwest Russia to southwest Spain – flying more than five hours to reach Seville for their match for a place in the final. Manchester City and Belgian midfielder Kevin De Bruyne is among those who feel the tournament is not fair and criticised the draw process in November, when the opponents had already been determined before the tournament. It’s a scandal, it’s like a rigged competition, said De Bruyne, who recently recovered from a broken nose and eye socket injury in the Champions League final at 29. May recovered. This appears to be a distortion of competition. Football is no longer football – it is becoming a business.
|Country||Game 1||Game 2||Game 3||The last 16 years||Quarter-finals||Semi Final / Final|
|Wales (Group A)||Baku||Baku||Rome||London / Amsterdam||Munich / Baku||London|
|England (D)||London||London||London||London / Copenhagen||Rome / St Petersburg||London|
|Scotland (D)||Glasgow||London||Glasgow||London / Copenhagen||Rome / St Petersburg||London|
|Switzerland (A)||Baku||Rome||Baku||London / Amsterdam||Munich / Baku||London|
|Belgium (B)||St. John’s Petersburg||Copenhagen||St. John’s Petersburg||Seville / Amsterdam||Munich / Baku||London|
|Four teams qualified and finished third in their group. The round of 32 will be played in Seville, Bucharest, Glasgow or Budapest, while the quarter-finals will be played in Munich, St Petersburg, Rome or Baku.|
It is the team’s game
Uefa allowed each country to select 26 players, instead of the usual 23 for major tournaments, but Spain chose only 24. And every country may need every one of them. The restrictions imposed by Kovid 19 could well result in players having to miss matches, as was the case for seven Scottish players in the recent 2-2 draw with the Netherlands, after being found positive in the squad, and the long-term effects of coronavirus infection are also not yet fully known. Newcastle were one of the teams most affected by Covid’s outbreak in their squad – and in May boss Steve Bruce said: Everywhere I looked, people were broken, tired, sick. We’ve all experienced moments we hope will never happen again. A lot of people are working their asses off because it’s been almost non-stop for two years, especially the players. The players desperately need a break. But this break is not for now. The players’ bodies are still being tested. The manager and team that can best handle the workload may well become European champions. The figures refer to club appearances in all competitions for teams in the Premier League, La Liga, Serie A, Bundesliga and Ligue 1. The list only includes players who have qualified for Euro 2020. Manchester United footballer Aaron Van Bissack played 4,707 minutes in the 2020-21 season but was not called up for England selection. The De Jong mentioned is Barcelona midfielder Frankie, not Sevilla striker Luuk de Jong. The long, grueling English Premier League season is nearly over, and all that’s left now are the playoffs. While the Premier League has not been the most competitive this year, with many teams having difficult times, some of the top teams are still playing for their lives. The top six teams play for a final spot in the Champion’s League, while the Europa League comes down to the final week of play, with the final match taking place on May 24.. Read more about fitness levels of a professional footballer and let us know what you think.
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