BarcelonaA new FIFA virus has appeared. The World Cup in Qatar ended just a month ago and the footballers who participated the most are noticing it when they return to the competition with their clubs. Since state competitions resumed after December 20, some giants of the Old Continent have suffered the effect of a World Cup – the most demanding competition – played in the middle of the regular season, the first in all history. Spoiler: Barça escapes the pickle.
Liverpool and Real Madrid, one of the most affected
Liverpool were already showing signs that something was wrong at the start of the season, when their results were a rollercoaster. If on the return of the equipment red in the state competitions he lost 3-2 in the League Cup with Pep Guardiola’s City, on January 2 he fell against modest Brentford (3-1) in the Premier. Then, Klopp’s men did not get past the tie with Wolves (2-2) in the first leg of the third phase of the English Cup. Last Saturday they lost again (3-0) against Brighton. Excluded from the fight for the league, those at Anfield blame the bad timing of key players such as Konaté, a Frenchman who had little time to rest after the World Cup, and Matip, from the Netherlands, who is also not at 100%. The bad physical condition of the team is evident, above all, with the latest injuries to Darwin Núñez, Firmino and the most sensitive, that of Van Dijk, who also played in Qatar until the quarter-finals.
Liverpool’s opponent in the round of 16 of the Champions League, Real Madrid, is not much better. The whites are three points behind Barça in the League after losing to Vila-real, in a trip that they repeat this Thursday in the Copa del Rey. Ancelotti’s team notices the wear and tear on their midfield line, which was evident in the weekend’s classic in the Spanish Super Cup final (1-3). The Merengues noticed Modric’s fatigue – he played all seven matches with Croatia at the age of 37 – and missed Tchouaméni, who was injured after the World Cup, a tournament in which he played until the final.
City and PSG suffer from the effect of the World Cup in Qatar
For its part, Manchester City is currently coping with the crisis, but Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal are currently winning the game in the Premier League. Guardiola’s team has moved up to eight points away from them gunners after losing the Manchester derby (2-1) and a draw on 31 December against Everton (1-1). It is no coincidence, because many important players went far in the World Cup. Foden, Grealish, Phillips, Stones and Walker (England), Aké (Netherlands), Bernardo Silva, Cancelo, Rúben Dias (Portugal) and Ederson (Brazil) reached the quarter-finals, and Julián Álvarez (Argentina) the final All of them played an important role during the tournament. The club’s defensive problems citizen they start with the latest injuries to central defenders Rúben Dias and Stones, who arrived touched by Qatar.
Two defeats for the Parisians in the league since the return of club competitions have balanced the balance at the top of the Ligue 1 standings. PSG lost against Lens (3-1) – second in the standings, three points behind – with a tired Mbappé after the big and long role in the World Cup, but without Messi (still on post-World Cup leave) or Neymar. Last weekend they lost again with Messi and Neymar already in the starting lineup – Mbappé came on in the second half – against Stade Rennais (1-0).
Galtier is worried about the attitude of his footballers after the World Cup. “I’m disappointed with our performance. We can find a thousand excuses, but you have to understand that the World Cup is over,” said the coach after the match against Rennais.
Also Benfica – leader of the Portuguese league – pays for the efforts of key men. The Lisbon team contributed six players to the World Cup – Bah (Denmark), António Silva, Gonçalo Ramos and João Mário (Portugal), Otamendi and Enzo Fernández (Argentina) – and in these first weeks it is noticeable that some of them are not yet at 100% Braga overcame him with a resounding 3-0 and last weekend Roger Schmidt’s players drew with Sporting (2-2).