Van Dijk, Pique, Zaniolo – the injury plague decimating Coronavirus season

The 2020/21 season is increasingly being overshadowed by serious injuries to star players across Europe

2:46pm on Sunday 22nd November 2020
Carlo Garganese

It didn’t require a medical expert to tell us that the 2020/21 season was going to be a bad one for injuries and illnesses.

After all, the end to the 2019/20 campaign was condensed so tightly from June until the end of July that players were often taking to the field three times a week.

Then, the knockout stages of the Champions and Europa League were played during the month of August.

Despite all this, the new season kicked off in September with some players only getting a fortnight’s rest due to the international window at the start of that month.

There was virtually no pre-season for teams, with Juventus only playing one friendly before they began their new Serie A campaign.

And with international finals such as Euro 2020 and the Copa America pushed back to next summer – not to mention a backlog of other international fixtures such as the UEFA Nations League – the 2020/21 season has been even more condensed.

Indeed, instead of seeing Champions League and Europa League matches every fortnight, we’ve seen sequences where matches have been played every week for a number of weeks.

Professional sportsmen are simply not built physically and mentally to withstand this volume of matches.

It’s no surprise that we are seeing so many injuries already this season, including a worrying number of serious ones.

According to injury-tracking website, there have already been 103 muscle injuries in the Premier League in 2020/21. This is a 16 per cent jump when compared against the same number of matches last season.

Liverpool currently have 10 first-team squad players out, which is no surprise given they have played more football than most teams over the last couple of years.

There have been long-term injuries to Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez, who will both likely miss the rest of the season. Van Dijk tore his ACL.

Other notable players have also suffered serious injuries. Barcelona, whose squad is also decimated by injuries currently, have lost Ansu Fati with a meniscal laceration until at least March. They are also now sweating on the results of a knee scan for Gerard Pique, with fears he may have torn his ACL.

In Spain, there are currently eight players recovering from torn ligaments, including four from ruptured cruciate ligaments.

Italy and Roma have been rocked by two ACL tears in 2020 to perhaps their brightest young talent, Nicolo Zaniolo. Four players in Italy are recovering from cruciate ligament tears.

Juventus have been plagued by injuries so far this term, with all of their centre backs out at one point. Matthijs De Ligt and Alex Sandro only just played their first games of the season this weekend.

All over Europe, we are seeing the same problems. And that is without even mentioning all the players who have missed matches due to Coronavirus.

Certainly UEFA and FIFA have to do something to ease the strain on teams and players. Cancelling meaningless international friendlies and in-season windows would be a good start.


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