Euro 2020 Is Over. Next Season Starts Now.
In Europe, most teams still have six qualifying matches to play; several others will have to negotiate a playoff before claiming their place. In Asia, the group stages haven’t even started yet. Africa, too, is not yet on its way, and it has a continental championship to fit into: the Nations Cup is due to take place in Cameroon in January. South America’s extended qualifying process is one third of the way: Brazil lead the standings after six games, but there are still 12 left to play.
And in North America, the extended qualifying final round won’t begin until September, with teams set to play 14 games to see which will join Mexico, the region’s only certainty, in the final next year. All this must be part of a calendar of clubs already pressed by the time difference necessary to host, for the first time and contrary to what was initially announced, a World Cup organized in the winter of the northern hemisphere.
This will force the big European national leagues – the competitions that will supply the bulk of the World Cup players – to start the 2022-2023 season a little earlier, in order to allow a month-long hiatus in the middle of their campaigns. . But that doesn’t mean the coming season will end any sooner: the Champions League final, the highlight of the 2021-22 club campaign, is scheduled for May 28 in St. Petersburg. Once again, the little elastic that can be found will come from the players’ chance to rest.
It is indeed only in the summer of 2023 that the world’s elite of male players will have a summer to rest and recover properly. Most of them, Europeans and South Americans, anyway. There is another Nations Cup scheduled for Africa that summer, as well as another Gold Cup.
As always, it’s the players who will pay the price, and most importantly, ironically, those who are most successful. Difficult, Sunday evening at Wembley, not to be impressed by the coolness, the calm, the stubbornness of Chiellini and Bonucci, these graying old warriors in the heart of the Italian defense. They have 220 international selections between them.
They’ve been doing this for almost two decades now. They deserve the pomp and ceremony of an official reception with the Italian president. More than anything, however, they deserve a break. They can have one now. But they should just make sure they’re back to work in two weeks.
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