Friday, April 23, 2010

World Cup looming - injury concerns

As we draw closer to the World Cup - less than 50 days until kick off. The injuries are mounting up and taking its toll on some stars of the upcoming tournament. Players such as Gallas, Torres, Essien, Cesc, Davies, Beckham, Adler to name a few are all at risk of missing their respected flights to South Africa. None will carry as much of an impact as Michael Essien.

The Ghana captain is the catalyst for the Black Stars - he is the engine, the leader and the glue that holds the midfield together and makes the team a legitimate threat to advance in the tournament. With a nagging knee injury curtailing his Chelsea season, it is now feared that it might also keep him out for the summer tournament.  Ghana has some real belief that it can make some noise this summer, after a run to the African Cup of Nations finals, with a young team, it was thought that add the veteran metal to this side and you have a great combination of youth and veteran talent. Being in group D, with Germany, Serbia and Australia, Ghana will need its dynamic midfielder to carry the Black Stars through what should be a very physical group. Without the Chelsea man, the mountain will get much steeper to climb.

What about Espana? Del Bosque is continuing to watch nervously as his star players deal with injuries - Cesc, Senna, Torres to name a few. While there remains a tremendous amount of talent available, these are players expected to shine at the World Cup. What about Iniesta? Will he be fit in time to partner with his Barcelona teammate, Xavi, to work the midfield? Torres is going to be operated on, Cesc has a broken leg...even if they are fit in time, will they have enough time to get into game shape? Who will hold down the defensive role if Senna is not available? Alonso could slot into the role, but Senna remains the player most capable of holding that slot and allowing Xavi, Iniesta et al to work their offensive magic without concern of defensive responsibilities. Cesc was expected to be a 3rd creative midfielder or a super sub off the bench - without him del Bosque losses one of his key midfield options, one that would have allowed for a rotation keeping  his players fresh during the tournament. Finally if Torres does not make it back 100% what will that do for the offense? Granted with Villa in form he can carry a team on his own, but if Spain is looking to reach what many see as a finals appearance if not better they will need the Liverpool striker to be in his usual form. The one good note for Spain is that they should get out of their group with relative ease so may not need to lean on their injured players until later in the tournament.

What about other injuries? Gallas might be out which will only exasperate the problems France have at central defense. If Gallas is out I think the France might not make it out of the group stages...

Germany is without, who many thought, would be their #1 keeper Alder. The US has a gaping hole up front with Davies on the shelf after a horrific car wreck - he is back on his feet but not ready to resume training let alone playing.

There are still some games to go for the top players, so unfortunately more injuries might strike some of the key players and nations. Let us hope that those on the shelf return to good health and no other big names see their World Cup dreams go by way of the trainers' room.

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