clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Who should have the last word between clubs and countries during FIFA break?

Discussing the FIFA Virus.

Denis Doyle/Getty Images

It's no wonder the old argument still rages over the club v country debate when you get players going away on international duty and coming back injured.  It's one thing when the injuries occur in competitive qualifiers but it's hard to take when people are injured in what essentially amounts to meaningless friendlies.  Even though the international managers / coaches are going to insist that if preparing for important European or World Cup qualifiers means having friendly matches when no group fixture is scheduled, that's no consolation for Real Madrid who now have no fewer than six players out injured.

Sergio Ramos, Pepe, Danilo and James were all injured anyway; but the injuries to first Karim Benzema and secondly to Luka Modric have merely rubbed salt into the wounds.  It gets worse when we learn today that Luka Modric won't be returning immediately to Madrid for assessment; but will travelling to Malta instead with the rest of the Croatian squad.  You would have thought that the Croatian Federation would have been happier for him to come back to Madrid for further assessment, but it appears not.  Sitting in the stands watching the Malta game seems such an enormous waste of time and resources when Luka could be back in Valdebebas beginning his treatment and rehab.  That said, I don't think there's too much love lost between the Real Madrid medical staff and the Croatian Federation, going by the events of last season when Luka received treatment outside of the Madrid club.

It's always difficult getting treatment while playing away, touring, or competing in international qualifiers due to the time constraints placed on the physio staff.  Although they'll be keen to see Luka regain full fitness as quickly as possible, he's not going to be their priority at the moment.  With the best will in the world, the Croatian medical team will likely give preference to the starting eleven against Malta and they're the ones who will be given first call in the medical room.  Anyone who's not playing will just have to fall into line.  Focussing on those players who are likely to be involved in the next game instead of those who may be injured is one of the drawbacks in tournament situations.  You would realistically expect that anyone injured and therefore unavailable would be better returning to their clubs for treatment as soon as possible.

Karim Benzema's injury was sustained in a friendly game and as we said earlier, that makes it even harder to take.  There's been dialogue apparently between the French coach Didier Deschamps and Real Madrid but it makes no difference because in reality the damage has been done; and it's Madrid who have to pick up the pieces.  According to reports Karim was given a scan by the French medical team but Real have wasted no time in arranging an examination of their own.  Although the diagnosis is unlikely to be any different from that of the French staff, the prognosis for Karim's recovery and his estimated return date may well differ as time progresses.   Having returned to Madrid more or less after the injury was sustained, it will be interesting to see how well he responds to treatment.

There's also a lot more transparency these days when it comes to liaison between the club medical staff and those of the national teams than there used to be.  Countries often insist on calling players up who have been declared unfit by the clubs in order to make their own assessment of the injuries before the games are played, so the injured players will frequently join up with the rest of the squad.  This is likely as a result of the number of players calling off from international duties at the last minute with ‘injuries' and then turning out for their clubs the following weekend.  The Federations have a lot more power nowadays with regards to players' treatment and I think that's something that rankles with the medical staff at club level who often feel that their judgement is being called into question; particularly when the Federations then have an input into how the actual injuries are managed thereafter.

The club v country argument is one that has gone on for years, and I think we could be approaching the stage in the not-too-distant future when this argument is going to become deeper than it is at the moment.  Managers in general aren't keen on the players going away on international duty, particularly if it upsets the plans for the club schedule, and with Real Madrid having four key players already injured before this round of internationals, the latest setback hasn't helped matters.  Rafa's been in Liverpool for the last few days and he must have been wondering every time the phone rang if it was yet another injury being reported.

The other side of the coin, though, is that players do want to play for their country and are, in general I think, prepared to take the chance of getting injured in order to turn out in the internationals.  Players are passionate about playing for their country and don't go into games thinking "I'll need to be careful here".  To a certain extent it can all be about the moment and it would take a lot of persuasion to stop Gareth Bale turning out for Wales, for example, even though the Welsh have already qualified for the finals.

For many players the option to participate at international level is too big an opportunity to miss and if that means running the risk of injury then so be it.  No player thinks he will get injured in any particular game and that's where the difference in thinking between players and management becomes obvious.  When it comes down to the international weeks the players don't expect to get injured and the management would often rather they didn't run the risks in the first place; therefore the club versus country argument is likely to rage for a while longer.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Managing Madrid Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of Real Madrid news from Managing Madrid