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Schedule ahead of World Cup is ‘crazy,’ says Chelsea’s Azpilicueta

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Premier League – Aston Villa v Chelsea – Villa Park, Birmingham, Britain – October 16, 2022 Chelsea’s Cesar Azpilicueta REUTERS/Hannah Mckay/File Photo

Chelsea defender Cesar Azpilicueta said the number of games being crammed into the schedule ahead of the World Cup next month is “crazy” and that player welfare is being jeopardised.

Azpilicueta’s team mate N’Golo Kante has been ruled out of the World Cup after undergoing an operation on a hamstring injury, while Reece James is in a race to be fit for the tournament after injuring his knee.

Chelsea have three league fixtures, two Champions League games and a League Cup tie before the World Cup in Qatar begins on Nov. 20.

“It’s difficult and it’s sad because as players you want to go to the World Cup, but we have this schedule where we have to play for our club and do our best,” Azpilicueta told reporters on Monday.

“We are fighting a lot for player welfare because the schedule is crazy. Sometimes we have to consider everything and I think we are in conversations with FIFA. It’s difficult because I understand that the fans want to see football.

“We have five subs now, but we have in our team a couple of injuries that make it more difficult to rotate. We are playing every few days, but it’s how it is and we have to step up.”

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Azpilicueta is expected to feature in Spain’s squad for the World Cup, where they have been drawn into Group E alongside Germany, Costa Rica and Japan. They begin their group campaign on Nov. 23 against Costa Rica.

-Reuters

Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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