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Premier League Clubs Facing Prospect Of World Cup Hangover



At the start of the 1994-5 Italian Serie A season, an AC Milan side led by Franco Baresi and featuring the likes of Paolo Maldini were chasing their fourth title in a row, having also won the Champions League.

But six of their starting eleven had suffered the disappointment of losing the World Cup final on penalties to Brazil, and the effect of that, combined with the sheer effort of a long summer, cost them badly and they could finish only fourth.

And it is a fate that could yet affect many of the leading contenders for the Premier League this season.

Champions Manchester City had 16 players involved for their various countries in Russia, with Chelsea and Tottenham fielding 12, Manchester United 11 and Liverpool nine, if you include new signing Xherdan Shaqiri.

With the Premier League season beginning this Friday, August 10, it is a quick turnaround for all clubs, even if the leading contenders will expect to have the depth to cope.

But many of them also had several players in the latter stages, Tottenham the worst affected, with nine players involved in the semi-finals, a situation made possible partly by England’s run to the last four.

And with the new Nations Cup coming in September – replacing the traditional autumn friendly internationals – the effect is exaggerated even more.

“I don’t want to get too football political but if they don’t stop with these games – they are now making it the Nations Cup to make it more important – then all these players who played at the World Cup have to go there again,” Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp said.

“We had four players in the (World Cup) semis, which is okay, we can deal with that.

“Tottenham had nine players in the semis. I have no clue how they will do it. That’s a big challenge. It’s a really tough thing to deal with and in the future we have to change it.”

Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino said he expects the start of the season to be difficult for his side.

“It’s different circumstances because the players need to rest and a period to recover after more than 12 months of competition,” he said.

“I’m not complaining about that. I completely understand that they need 21 days away from football.

“Of course, it’s a massive disadvantage because to prepare the season in that way will be tough for them. But I need to adapt.

“We cannot delete the start of the season. It starts earlier than other leagues and other countries. We are going to be all in a similar condition. Some teams have more problems than others.”

Many of those involved in the latter stages of the World Cup, like Liverpool’s Jordan Henderson, Tottenham’s Hugo Lloris, Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne and Vincent Kompany, are likely to be eased back into their respective teams in the first few weeks of the season.

Their absence means an opportunity for others to impress.

“Preseason is a bit different from before because of the World Cup,” Pochettino said.

“It’s a massive opportunity for them to show they can fight for one place in the starting eleven.”


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