After having a free weekend ten days ago due to the postponement of the Barça game, Real Madrid are now well and truly back into the usual cycle of midweek games filling the gaps between the regular weekend fixtures.
That unscheduled break in Real’s busy fixture list is now well and truly forgotten.
Turkish side Galatasaray visit the Bernabéu as part of yet another busy week for Real Madrid, who face the Istanbul giants at the Bernabéu in the Champions League this Wednesday.
Toni Kroos, who recovered from his adductor injury sooner than expected and played against Galatasaray in the first leg, was one of a number of Real Madrid players grateful for the additional days recuperation before the Leganés match last Wednesday.
Not too long after signing for Real Madrid in 2014, Toni gave an interview to the German sports paper ‘Kicker’ in which he talked about the lack of recovery time in Spanish football and the crowded fixture list.
Both, he felt, placed additional demands on players’ fitness and can potentially lead to a higher injury risk; amplified when teams play midweek fixtures and then have another match to contend with the following weekend.
Toni spoke then of being ‘tired’ and cited the fact that in Spain they play far more games than in Germany; yet despite all his criticisms of the Spanish league, he’s rarely missed more than a few matches with injury whilst other regular members of the side have been less fortunate.
You don’t have to be a doctor to know that lack of recuperation time can be a major contributing factor to a club’s injury list.
Competing in European and global competitions such as the FIFA Club World Cup is par for the course at Real’s level and nobody at the Bernabéu treats this as anything other than normal.
There are no easy games either since every match is regarded as a cup final as far as the opposition are concerned and consequently Real have to approach all the games with the same degree of thoroughness in terms of preparation.
The Galatasaray match this Wednesday will be the third of three straight home games in a row for Real Madrid after Betis and Leganés and although that’s something that Zidane et al will have factored into their planning, it still doesn’t help in terms of predicting potential injuries.
However, if players aren’t at their peak fitness then the stats show that they are more likely to be susceptible to injuries; and all the research points to the fact that players are at a greater risk of muscular injury in the latter stages of the games when fatigue sets in.
That’s not to say injuries don’t occur in the earlier stages of the games either but there appears to be a definite link between the onset of fatigue and injuries of a soft-tissue nature; particularly when the records show these tend to happen in the final thirty minutes of the game.
It’s certainly a challenge to the fitness team headed up by Grégory Dupont.
The situation hasn’t changed and nor is it likely to for clubs like Real Madrid. If Real aren’t playing then they’re training and in the off-season they’re touring. That usually means playing at venues as far away from Madrid as you can get.
With the present fixation on playing La Liga matches outside of Spain plus recent talk about holding the Copa del Rey finals abroad it’s no wonder players complain about the football calendar.
What makes things worse is that every postponed game needs to be rearranged and that’s where all the planning can take a hit.
November’s schedule sees Real Madrid travel to Éibar and Alavés while Real Sociedad and PSG visit the Bernabéu.
In December Real Madrid are scheduled to meet Espanyol and Athletic Bilbao at the Bernabéu either side of a Champions League tie in Brugge and a trip to Valencia a few days before the rearranged Barça game!
Although Zidane will almost certainly rotate the squad for several of the aforementioned fixtures, squad resources will be put to the test.
Accordingly, the backroom staff at Real Madrid will have different priorities. Zidane will be looking for a good performance against Galatasaray on Wednesday and three Champions league points.
The medical and fitness people will simply be hoping for a clean bill of health on the night.