The race to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar has reached the business end, with the qualification campaign across the globe entering the decisive phase.
A host of European best national teams have already sealed their place at next year’s tournament, while some others, like Portugal and Italy, will hope to make it to Qatar 2022 via play-offs as the recent odds suggest.
Elsewhere, the record-time World Cup winners Brazil have booked a ticket for the upcoming competition, with Argentina on the verge of following in the footsteps of fierce continental rivals.
But for the first time in World Cup history, the tournament will take place in the winter, which will likely impact club football and players in so many different ways.
FIFA’s decision to move the World Cup to November-December will trigger a chain reaction in club football across European leagues.
With the season traditionally played from August to May, the final two months of the year are often a busy time, overwhelmed by domestic fixtures and group matches in the Champions League and Europa League.
Since Qatar 2022 will be running between November 21 and December 18, 2022, elite club football in Europe could face a six-week shutdown to provide players with enough time to recover.
Therefore, the 2022/23 campaign should undergo some changes in terms of the fixture schedule to enable the World Cup and domestic leagues to be played out as smoothly as possible.
According to some forecasts, the extent of its impact could potentially stretch to the beginning of the 2023/24 season.
The impact of the coronavirus pandemic has already put players under unprecedented physical demands due to the hectic schedule at multiple levels.
An already congested nature of the season is likely to reach a whole new dimension in the period before and after the 2022 World Cup.
There is not any doubt the workload will almost certainly intensify in the weeks or, better say, months around next year’s showpiece.
In football today, players in the top five European leagues have got used to playing between 55 and 60 matches per season, depending on their clubs’ success.
Between now and the upcoming tournament, players from Europe’s high-profile clubs, such as Bayern Munich, Manchester City, Liverpool and Real Madrid, may feature in up to 100 competitive games.
After such a demanding schedule, those stars will be expected to perform at the competition that’s seen by many as the pinnacle of players’ careers.
The temperatures in the Middle East average 41.2 degrees Celsius over the summer, which forced FIFA to postpone the 2022 World Cup to November-December.
Such demanding weather conditions could derail some nations’ title prospects, while there are others who may benefit from high temperatures.
In addition to African nations, there is no doubt that South American teams who are used to searing temperatures and dampness will feel comfortable.
The best CONMBEOL sides, Brazil and Argentina, could turn the challenging weather conditions in the Middle East to their advantage, with the latter pursuing their first World Cup title since 1986.