The 2022 FIFA World Cup will mark the first time in the tournament’s 90+ year history that it won’t be held in either May, June or July. The reason? Qatar’s sweltering summer heat. That heat means that it’s unfeasible to play the tournament in the middle stages of the year, and is one of the many reasons that the selection of the Middle Eastern nation as this year’s World Cup host was so controversial.
The heat will still play a significant role – forecasts suggest it’ll be close to 30 degrees Celsius during the day and never drop below about 21 or 22 – but that’s a far cry from what players would have dealt with were the tournament held during the summer months, and explains why the 2022 edition will be held in November and December. On the face of it, the decision makes sense (at least once Qatar was given hosting rights), but there is a downside – the impact the World Cup will now have on many major leagues throughout the world.
La Liga is one such example. The top-tier Spanish division runs for the bulk of the year, but the break they do have is in the middle – when the World Cup is typically played. This time around, the World Cup will take place just prior to the halfway point of their season, resulting in a hiatus of nearly two months spanning the beginning of November up until the last day of the year.
Evidently this will require some adjustment from all 20 La Liga clubs, and league giant Real Madrid is no exception. The champion in two of the last three seasons and winner of 35 titles over all, Los Blancos are currently locked in a two-way battle at the top of the table with long-time rival Barcelona, with whom sports betting sites suggest they are destined to battle it out for this year’s championship – PlayUp, as an example, has them as the runaway favourites this year, with no other team being given a realistic chance at winning.
Of their 14 games so far this season – the number each team has played when the league paused for the World Cup – Real Madrid have won 11, drawn two and lost just one. That has them sitting very comfortably in the top two, though just below Barcelona, who have won 12 of their 14 games and drawn one. The gap between the two is, however, minimal, and Real Madrid and manager Carlo Ancelotti will see themselves as every chance of switching positions with Barca by the season’s end.
But to do so, they will have little margin for error, and it will all begin the second that the 2022 FIFA World Cup ends. Many of Real Madrid’s stars will be competing in Qatar, but those who aren’t have been given a bit of time off by Ancelotti – until the 1st of December, that is, when they’ll kick off training for the second segment of their season. The Italian manager is looking to organise a friendly for those players during December.
Those who are playing at the FIFA World Cup will, clearly, not be available to partake in these activities, but it’s not as though they’ll be sitting at home losing form either; they’ll be competing in a high-level tournament against the best players in the world. Once they’re back, however, Ancelotti will no doubt expect them to switch immediately from national mode to domestic mode.
Obviously most of Real Madrid’s representatives at the World Cup won’t be playing in the final, but with Brazilian, French, German, Spanish and Belgian representatives, it’s likely that at least some of them will be, and those who aren’t will probably be competing deep into the tournament.
Following the World Cup final, there will be just 12 days until Real Madrid recommence their season with a game against Valladolid on New Year’s Eve. That’s a pretty tight turnaround and doesn’t offer Ancelotti – or the other La Liga managers – a great deal of time to re-ingratiate their players and prepare them for the season to kick off once again.
But that doesn’t mean he isn’t capable. After all, Carlo Ancelotti is the most decorated manager in Champions League history and widely regarded as one of the best of all time. It does, however, mean that there’s no time to waste.
What exactly Ancelotti’s plans are might not be clear to any outside the inner circle at Real Madrid, but what is for sure is that they will begin the day after the FIFA 2022 World Cup ends.