The most highly anticipated sports event in 2022 is about to take place in Qatar, with 32 nations battling it out for world supremacy.
While the 2022 FIFA World Cup will provide some players with an opportunity to make a standout achievement, others will take a much-needed break from club football’s relentless schedule.
Players like Erling Haaland, Mohamed Salah, Riyad Mahrez and Martin Odegaard will rest at home before the season-defining run-in after their countries failed to book tickets for the Middle East.
But though the first-ever winter showpiece will force drastic changes to the usual club calendar, Europe’s top sides won’t sit back, with plans over off-season warm-up fixtures already in the making.
November 13 will mark the final Premier League weekend ahead of the tournament. England’s top division will return to action on Boxing Day, so clubs will have enough time to work out their mid-season strategy.
Let’s take a quick look at the potential club friendlies that may be contested during the upcoming five-week break.
As per The Athletic, the Gunners are hopeful of playing three warm-up matches during the World Cup.
Those that won’t participate in Qatar will fly out to a warm-weather training camp in Dubai, where Arsenal aim to play at least two friendlies.
Per some reports in France, mid-table Ligue 1 strugglers Lyon have emerged as one of the likeliest candidates to take on Mikel Arteta’s men.
Several high-profile long-term Chelsea absentees, including Reece James, N’Golo Kante and Wesley Fofana, are widely expected to stay at home during the World Cup due to injury.
After a noticeable dip in form, manager Graham Potter may embrace the upcoming break to get his side into shape going into the back of the season.
With the Blues facing an uphill task to claw their way back into the top-four race, Potter will hope to have the players returning from injuries fit and firing before Boxing Day.
But Chelsea have yet to reveal their plans for the winter.
Like Arsenal, Liverpool will be travelling to Dubai for a training camp and are expected to lock horns with Lyon, just like the Gunners.
Jurgen Klopp will watch his headline performers Alisson, Virgil van Dijk, Fabinho and Darwin Nunez, among others, fighting for the World Cup trophy.
It should give others a chance to prove themselves to the German manager, with defending Serie A champions AC Milan most likely to be the Reds’ other opponents this winter.
Pep Guardiola has already made it clear he wants to take a break to watch the Qatar showpiece from the comforts of his home, but Manchester City won’t skip winter preparations.
The Spaniard has yet to finalise his plans for the upcoming warm-up period, with the Cityzens tipped to stay in Manchester to prepare for the challenges to follow.
Guardiola’s talismanic striker Haaland will stay in Europe to work on his fitness after Norway’s busted attempt to qualify for the World Cup for the sixth tournament running.
Manchester United players not selected by their countries for the upcoming matches in Qatar will take a trip to Spain for a training camp in early December.
According to Man Utd’s official website, Erik ten Hag’s side will trade tackles with perennial La Liga relegation strugglers Cadiz at the start of December.
However, a friendly clash at the Nuevo Mirandilla Stadium will not be the Red Devils’ solitary mid-season assignment, with another warm-up fixture coming up soon after against La Liga side Real Betis.
Tottenham Hotspur boss Antonio Conte has been mysterious over Spurs’ plans for the tournament, though he’s vowed to present his ideas to the club.
The Italian tactician issued a warning to England gaffer Gareth Southgate over ‘tired’ Harry Kane following his side’s shock EFL Cup elimination at the hands of Nottingham Forest.
With less than a week left before the Three Lions embark on their pre-World Cup preparations, Conte warned Southgate over the striker’s worrying physical condition, football.london relays.
It’s understood that Tottenham will take ten days off before going back to work.
A come-from-behind 2-1 win at Osasuna in the ultimate La Liga round ahead of the World Cup break fired the Catalans to the top of the standings.
Xavi Hernandez’s men waved goodbye to long-serving stalwart Gerard Pique on the eve of the international break but have yet to reveal their plans for the future.
As ever, the Blaugrana will have a host of their first-team stars representing their countries at the world’s most prominent international tournament.
But for those staying home, Barcelona have yet to communicate their winter programme.
Like their arch-rivals, reigning Champions League holders Real Madrid will have a large contingent of the Santiago Bernabeu members featuring in Qatar.
Recently criticised by club icon Guti for allegedly missing out on Los Merengues’ key league fixtures in the build-up to the World Cup, France’s Karim Benzema will spearhead the Spaniards’ international contingent.
Still, like Barcelona, Carlo Ancelotti’s men have been silent over their winter plans.
With Bayern Munich’s star-studded starting line-up accounting for almost 70% of Germany’s national team, Julian Nagelsmann will be left with nothing but the bare bones over the next five weeks.
Aware that a large portion of his squad will be in Qatar, the Bavarians boss outlined the club’s ideas for the mid-season stop.
“There will probably be between two to four players here. We’ll take a week off after Schalke, then we train until December 10, then vacation,” Nagelsmann said, as quoted by the SB Nation.
Like almost every abovementioned side, most of Paris Saint-Germain’s game carriers will embrace prominent roles for their countries at the World Cup.
From Lionel Messi to Neymar to Kylian Mbappe, Christophe Galtier’s main men already have their sights firmly set on winning the prize in Qatar.
As it stands, Les Parisiens won’t be playing a single mid-season friendly as they’ve yet to announce any plans regarding the upcoming break.
Watching Club Friendlies
Club friendlies – pre-season or mid-season – are seldom broadcast on TV channels but you should either be able to attend them or watch them through each club’s own streaming service. If all else fails, you can use our live scores page to keep track of the games and check Football Today for major news surrounding any of the games.
Watching The 2022 World Cup
The 2022 World Cup will be unmissable thanks to BBC and ITV offering you the chance to watch all 64 games live – see the live tv schedules here.
If you are in the US, you can also use Private Internet Access (PIA), a VPN that allows you to watch all live World Cup games by connecting to their United Kingdom streaming servers and watching it for free on BBC iPlayer or ITV Hub.
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