The World Cup is always a measure of a team’s health and ability to deal with it. it comes at the end of a long season – unless you’ve cast it in a desert, totalitarian country that puts you in it in the middle of the season – and Players have logged the most miles possible before playing in the biggest tournament. It is impossible to get a full team through to the World Cup completely safe and fresh and then through it.
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But the World Cup, set for July in Australia and New Zealand, is shaping up more and more like an Atlanta battle scene gone With the Wind, And every favorite is dealing with at least one, and probably several, absences from their potential squad. This is mostly through injury, and some through politics.
England are the worst co-favourites, although most betting sites have them as second-favourites behind America. But their chances took a major hit last week when their captain and defensive anchor Leah Williamson suffered a torn ACL. Beth Mead, one of the best players from last summer’s European Championships, tore her ACL in November and is a long shot to make the tournament.
The Dutch will be without star striker Vivian Miedema. you already know mallory swanson is out of the tournament following his patella injury. Caterina Macario is racing against time to try to be fit for Australia and New Zealand with her ACL injury. Canada will miss Janine Beckie…all together now…Torn ACL. He has a host of other concerns that make up a good portion of the squad’s involvement in question.
Spain are still waiting for Alexia Puteles to return from an ACL injury he suffered just before the Euros. Of course, we don’t know whether she will play for Spain in the tournament or who else will, as most of the first team went on strike With the national team over the Spanish FA’s choice of manager and treatment of the team. France had similar problems, which they tried to solve with the hiring of Hervé Renard to replace the much maligned Corinne Diacré. Australia has suffered many injuries. Brazil have seen Marta recently on the sidelines from injury. Germany’s Giulia Gwinn caught her own version of ACL-itis. No team will be considered entering the tournament at full strength, and we are still three months out, with a European season to end and an NWSL season to continue. This list will almost certainly grow.
It certainly highlights the epidemic of ACL injuries, which women’s soccer is plagued with, if not afflicted. there are a lot of studies out there, mostly focused on differences in the bodies of women and men that put more pressure on women’s knees, especially when descending. But how teams and federations, at every level, deal with those differences is still behind where it should be. Cleats designed for men and placed only in women’s sizes are a potential problem because they do not adjust for differences in women’s feet, build, and strength, allowing more players to get their cleats, and feet Get stuck in the turf which can cause injury. More recently teams have begun to take into account menstrual cycles and how they make joints more vulnerable over time. This is just a sample, and of course, there are still huge differences in the staffing, funding and treatment of women’s sports that don’t help.
And women’s soccer has the same problem as men’s, with the powers that be finding more ways to pile in more games. For the USWNT only, the CONCACAF Gold Cup has been expanded to include more South American teams to reflect the dual Copa América in which the USMNT will participate in 2024. The women’s sport sends full squads to the Olympics, meaning few European teams are competing in major tournaments every year. There were the Euros last summer, this World Cup, and then the Paris Olympics after that, and then the next Euro in the summer. This combined with the general workload of these players with their club teams, which FIFA saw fit to jam into the Club World Cup as well. where’s the brake?
This of course leads one to ask if the World Cup is the best it could ever be, and whether FIFA would ever back down from anything that allows players to stay healthy and take part in the showpiece of the game to coffers. can fill. We want the World Cup to be a competition of the best teams, not the best of the best.
For the actual tournament, of course, squad depth plays a part in weeding out the contenders from the underdogs. That’s where America really benefits. Yes, there’s no Mallory Swanson right now, but being able to turn to Sophia Smith or Trinity Rodman, or Lynn Williams, is a huge comfort. England could bring in Alex Greenwood to replace Williamson, but they really can’t afford any more injuries to their defensive core, even with Millie Bright’s presence in question. Other teams aren’t so lucky. Putellus or Miedema is not a stand-in.
Neither FIFA nor any team can completely eliminate injuries. But it is certainly worth considering what is being asked of the players and what is there to support them, at what point the World Cup is dim.
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