With the final 26-player roster for Qatar to be announced soon, in the next 24-48 hours soon, there’s no doubt there will be critiques with the roster. At this point it’s pretty obvious who is and who isn’t going, which means it’s now time to look at the next issue: player exhaustion.
There were so many issues that came with Qatar hosting the World Cup. When the tournament was changed to the Winter, the biggest issue raised was how players’ bodies would deal with the exhaustion of having to play a major tournament in the middle of their season. Usually, clubs go into winter break in December, but with the World Cup scheduled from November to December, leagues all over the world had to re-adjust their schedules for the 2022-2023 season. They did this by starting the season earlier and scheduling the winter break from mid-November to the end of December. The problem with the re-adjusted schedule is that the clubs don’t have to release their players until this weekend, with the World Cup slated to start seven days later.
Out of the 31 players named to the preliminary roster, 12 of them play in Europe and one in the MLS. The rest of the roster play in the Liga MX. The MLS and Liga MX finished their regular seasons in early October, but 18 players continued in the postseason with their clubs in Mexico, where the season came to an end October 30th. This means that by the time the roster is finalized, there will be players who have had about two weeks of rest while their European counterparts will have had only a couple days since they’ve barely been released by their clubs. Players like ‘Chucky’ Lozano, Edson Alvarez, Andrés Guardado, Erick Gutierrez, Orbelin Pineda, and Jorge Sanchez will only have days of rest before they start their training for the World Cup.
This lack of rest can also lead to injuries. There have already been two injuries before the World Cup and it wouldn’t be a surprise if more occur during and after the tournament. ‘Tecatito’ Corona and Raul Jimenez both suffered injuries back in August. Despite making a hard push to be ready in time, Corona was officially ruled out this past week. Then there’s Jimenez, who sustained a groin injury right before kickoff with his club team. He is looking better and it’s more likely than not he’ll be going to the World Cup. If he goes and gets injured again, which can happen if he isn’t taken care of, how angry would Wolverhampton be about their star forward? Which is another issue itself; players have a higher chance of injury with little rest. Clubs will be crossing their fingers that their players stay healthy during the World Cup, which means player rotation is going to be key for Mexico.
Will ‘Tata’ Martino and company be able to keep their players healthy? Let’s hope they can!