How players train during international breaks

The upcoming international break will undoubtedly be met with a wide range of reactions by managers at club level.

For the teams in the midst of a good run, the international break is an unwelcome distraction heading into a pivotal part of the season.

However, some managers may be happy to have the opportunity to regroup, particularly those whose teams are currently in the relegation zone.

International breaks present several unique challenges for managers, especially if they lose a significant proportion of their squad to national teams.

During the pre-season, managers can work with their players to build muscle faster, work on their cardiovascular fitness and improve their tactical know-how.

However, they are forced to take a different approach during international breaks to ensure the training remains beneficial to the players.

The March international break can be extremely tricky to navigate given where it falls in the annual football calendar.

That point was highlighted to perfection last year, as the top clubs in the Premier League sought to ensure they were ready to finish the season with a flourish.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola lost 11 first-team players to international football, although several top stars missed out on selection.

Kevin De Bruyne, Ruben Dias and Kyle Walker were among a group of City stars not picked by their national team managers, which left Guardiola with a decision to make.

With City challenging hard for the Premier League title, the Spaniard told the international absentees to take some time off.

The move paid off in style as Guardiola’s side kept Liverpool at bay to clinch top spot for the fourth time in five seasons.

Reds’ manager Jurgen Klopp took a slightly different approach to his City counterpart and was ultimately left to regret the choice he made.

The first-team players who missed out on international selection were given a week off, but they were each handed individual fitness programmes to undertake.

That extra workload was potentially crucial on the run-in, with drawn games against Man City and Tottenham Hotspur preventing Liverpool from winning the title.

Chelsea and Manchester United followed City’s lead by giving their players time off during the March 2022 international break, although only the Blues benefitted.

They finished third in the table to book a place in the Champions League, but United finished well adrift of the top four and ended up in the Europa League.

Sandwiched in between that pair were north London rivals Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur, both of whom kept their players ticking over during the international break.

Tottenham manager Antonio Conte lived up to his tough reputation by working hard on set pieces and fitness, and was rewarded as his team edged out the Gunners in the race for fourth place.

Quite what the top managers will do during the upcoming international break is unclear, but will likely have a significant effect on how the rest of the season unfolds.

How players train during international breaks

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