The spinal column of Spain supports many hours of football, with five players exceeding 4,000 minutes and another as many exceeding 3,200
Luis Enrique says that physical fatigue is related to the emotional state. If one is happy through life – read through the football fields – the kilometers are relativized and the muscles better support the demands of the Eurocup.
“If you go well upside down and you are convinced, it turns out that you fly”said the Asturian in his appearance prior to the clash against Switzerland, in which the team played another extension and despite the words of his coach he showed signs of exhaustion. The outburst of joy was monumental with the passage to the semifinals, sweaty in two long hours of football and varnished with the memorable performance of Unai Simón.
But in La Roja’s bubble of happiness there is also room for fatigue, which gradually seeps into a block that has played five games in 18 days.. At the moment there are five players over 4,000 minutes and as many more than 3,200, almost all of them indisputable starters with the Gijon coach. And on Tuesday Italy awaits, stripped of its historic ultra-defensive mantle and turned into a team that plays a happy and effective game.
The national coach has formed an easily identifiable block in which there are immovable pieces. Unai Simón and Aymeric Laporte have played every minute of this European Championship (510), and Pedri has only missed one because he was substituted in the final stretch of the match against the Swiss (509). Jordi Alba (433), Koke (411), Morata (393) and Busquets (292) also enter this undisputed club -he missed the first two crashes due to the coronavirus-, among others, without forgetting the already widely employed Pau Torres (361), Azpilicueta (317) and Ferran (305). But these records are only the tip of the iceberg, which below the surface accounts for the corresponding tours in the respective domestic and international tournaments.
Pedri is the player from Spain with the most matches: 57. He is closely followed by Jordi Alba (54), Busquets (53), Koke (50), Gerard (50) and Dani Olmo (50).
The Barcelona side and author of the shot that gave La Roja the first goal against Switzerland after bouncing off Zakaria is the man with the most minutes in the team, 4,629, followed by Unai Simón (4,440), Pau Torres (4,336), Koke (4,099) and Pedri himself (4,035). They five are above the 4,000 barrier, although there are as many that stretch above 3,200: Azpilicueta (3,935), Gerard (3,817), Busquets (3,810), Olmo (3,525) and Morata (3,216). These are important figures that increase over the weeks and represent a not inconsiderable accumulation of effort and hours of play.
According to the data managed by the team’s coaching staff, the physical response of the footballers is good despite the fatigue and blows that the most common ones drag. If they could see the GPS numbers … They are impressive. There are training sessions in which the players repeat that data. Physically we are at full capacity, “said Luis Enrique on Thursday, aware of the high demands of the tournament and at the same time confident that his men will be able to withstand the rest of the Eurocup. It will not be easy because fatigue was noticeable against Switzerland, the lack of freshness, which resulted in up to six changes and signs of exhaustion. And if Italy appears on the horizon, which counts all its games by victories and has a roster of bells, being whole will be essential to fight for the final.
Italians also carry kilometers on their legs. There are four players with a lot of prominence in the Eurocup who are over 4,000 minutes -Donnarumma, Di Lorenzo, Barella and Insigne- and another six who have gone over 3,100 -Spinazzola, Acerbi, Bonucci, Jorginho, Chiesa and Immobile-. They all arrive with their backpack loaded with hours of football, although it is a physically powerful team. The differences are not great, but everything counts in the final phase of a tournament in which each race means approaching the limit. And if not tell it to the best left back of this Euro, Leonardo Spinazzola, who broke his Achilles tendon in a sprint against Belgium.
A notable loss for the ‘Azzurra’, who will shoot Emerson – he has only consumed 101 minutes in the tournament – against La Roja.
It will be necessary to see how both teams recover before seeing each other on Tuesday at Wembley. Spain has just played two games in a row with extra time (Croatia and Switzerland), while Italy had to go into extra time against Austria. They only have three days – actually less if travel is discounted – to rest and prepare for the semifinal. A continental classic is coming between two teams that are tired and happy for their trajectory in the Eurocup. “If you go well upside down, it turns out that you fly”, remembers Luis Enrique. The question is who of the two will make it higher this time.