By Tony Attwood
For some players, the first game they will play after the world cup is going to be… an international for their country. This insanity comes about because of the scheduling dominance of Fifa over all else.
Assuming that players do get a month’s holiday in the summer as they are supposed to have, and then have about three weeks training before playing a competitive match again, the schedule runs like this… (I tried to do this before but got a bit of the dating wrong so I am trying again)
Last game in world cup (14/15 July – the 3/4 place play off and the final)
Return to training: Between 16 and 18 August – depending on whether the winners and runners up count going to the national celebrations part of the players’ holiday or not)
Ready date for playing: Around 7 to 10 September
First match: 8 September – international fixtures weekend!
By my calculations (which as you well know, can always go very wrong) the earliest anyone can come back from the world cup after four weeks holiday and three weeks training is 21 August, after the first two games of the season.
Which means it is not a bad idea to play a couple of top six clubs in the first two games of the season – which is what we are doing.
Our first two opponents are (with details of their world cup players)…
Manchester City (16 players in the WC) – Sergio Aguero (Argentina), Gabriel Jesus (Brazil), Fernandinho (Brazil), David Silva (Spain), Raheem Sterling (England), Vincent Kompany (Belgium), Bernardo Silva (Brazil), Nicolas Otamendi (Argentina), Danilo (Brazil), Benjamin Mendy (France), Ederson (Brazil), Fabian Delph (England), Ilkay Gundogan (Germany), Kyle Walker (England), John Stones (England), Kevin De Bruyne (Belgium)
Chelsea (12 players in the WC) – Antonio Rudiger (Germany), Eden Hazard (Belgium), Willian (Brazil), Andreas Christensen (Denmark), Thibaut Courtois (Belgium), Victor Moses (Nigeria), Gary Cahill (England), Ruben Loftus-Cheek (England), Cesar Azpilicueta (Spain), Willy Caballero (Argentina), N’Golo Kante (France), Olivier Giroud (France)
Of course we are going to lose some world cup players ourselves
Arsenal (8) – Alex Iwobi (Nigeria), Mohamed Elneny (Egypt), Mesut Ozil (Germany), Nacho Monreal (Spain), Danny Welbeck (England), Granit Xhaka (Switzerland), David Ospina (Colombia), Stephan Lichtsteiner (Switzerland)
So it might just go to our advantage a little
The next two clubs we play (West Ham and Cardiff) are less affected as you might expect…
West Ham (4) – Javier Hernandez (Mexico), Manuel Lanzini (Argentina), Joao Mario (Portugal), Cheikhou Kouyate (Senegal)
Cardiff (2) – Marko Grujic (Serbia), Aron Gunnarsson (Iceland)
Just to complete the record the other top clubs from last season have these players involved.
Tottenham (12) – Toby Alderweireld (Belgium), Danny Rose (England), Son Heung-min (South Korea), Dele Alli (England), Davinson Sanchez (Colombia), Christian Eriksen (Denmark), Eric Dier (England), Mousa Dembele (Belgium), Kieran Trippier (England), Jan Vertonghen (Belgium), Hugo Lloris (France), Harry Kane (England)
Manchester United (12) – Nemanja Matic (Serbia), David De Gea (Spain), Ashley Young (England), Romelu Lukaku (Belgium), Paul Pogba (France), Jesse Lingard (England), Victor Lindelof (Sweden), Marcos Rojo (Argentina), Phil Jones (England), Marouane Fellaini (Belgium), Marcus Rashford (England), Fred (Brazil)
Liverpool (7) – Roberto Firmino (Brazil), Dejan Lovren (Croatia), Simon Mignolet (Belgium), Trent Alexander-Arnold (England), Sadio Mane (Senegal), Mohamed Salah (Egypt), Jordan Henderson (England).
Here is the schedule by my reckoning.
|Level||End date||Return date||Ready date|
|Group stages||28 June||30 July||21 August|
|Last 16||3 July||4 August||25 August|
|Quarter final||7 July||8 August||29 August|
|Semi-final/Third place||14 July||16 August||7 September|
|Final||15 July||18 August||10 September|
I’ve extended the date after the final, to allow for return home and wild celebrations and occasional drinking.
Our opening fixture is on 11 August against Manchester City and then away to Chelsea on 18 August. After that it is West Ham on 25th and Cardiff on 1 September before the jolly international fixtures on 8 September take over once again.
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