Injuries plague stars heading into Qatar World Cup

Rafael Varane leaves the field after also picking up a hamstring injury in Manchester United’s 1-1 draw against Chelsea. The defender is predicted to miss several weeks before the world cup.

This year’s world cup is slightly different from the previous ones. For starters, the host country is in the Middle East for the first time, taking place in Qatar. Secondly, the usual summer event is now taking place in the winter due to Qatar’s extreme heat in June and July. Despite this, like every world cup, this year’s edition is highly anticipated for unique reasons. Many of this generation’s biggest stars are approaching the twilight of their careers. For players like Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Luis Suarez, Luka Modric and Thomas Muller this is likely the last world cup they’ll be participating in. Yet, there are young stars rising through the ranks that are expected to light up this year’s tournament. Players like Kylian Mbappe, Joao Felix, Jamal Musiala, Jude Bellingham and Barcelona duo, Gavi and Pedri, are the ones predicted to take the mantle of the aforementioned players.

A key factor of this world cup will be the timing of it. Being midway through the club season, players will have no rest following the tournament and will be forced to finish the second half of the season. Many pundits and fans predict that injuries will be a big factor in that time as fatigue settles in for professionals playing excruciating minutes. In fact, heading into the world cup several high-profile names have picked up injuries that have put their world cup hopes in doubt. In Turin, Italy, Juventus star Angel Di Maria suffered a hamstring injury in the club’s 2-0 loss to Israeli side Maccabi Haifa in the Champions League. While he is expected to make a full recovery by the time the world cup arrives, there is uncertainty regarding the possibility of the injury being picked up again or bothering him in such an intense tournament.

Manchester United defender, Rafael Varane, also picked up a hamstring injury in the team’s clash with London team Chelsea that ended in a 1-1 draw. Leaving the field, Varane was visibly distraught, limping off the field with the aid of United’s medical staff and with his head buried in his shirt. Both Di Maria and Varane are seen as crucial for their respective countries, Argentina and France, teams that are expected to make deep runs in the tournament. There was even a heart-in-mouth moment for fans around the world when superstar Lionel Messi was reported to have a calf-strain. Thankfully, the 35 year-old only had to sit out a week’s worth of games, missing Paris Saint-Germain’s games against Reims in Ligue 1 and Benfica in the Champions League. The 7x ballon d’or winner was able to return for the team’s fixture against Toulouse in the league, scoring and assisting in the process.

Approaching this unorthodox world cup, many factors have led to much speculation about who will emerge on top this December in Qatar. While it is a swansong for many stars and a coming of age for others, this tournament will provide an exciting spectacle. Here’s to a fun and fulfilling tournament with action-packed twists and turns.