Why the International Break is a Distraction for Manchester City

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Distraction for Manchester City
SWANSEA, WALES - MARCH 16: Josep Guardiola, Manager of Manchester City arrives at the stadium prior to the FA Cup Quarter Final match between Swansea City and Manchester City at Liberty Stadium on March 16, 2019 in Swansea, United Kingdom. (Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images)

Manchester City are currently competing in three separate competitions and there has been much talk about the quadruple. Pep Guardiola’s side could be the first team to do it. But he will first have to deal with up to 14 of his players leaving Manchester for international duties, just before the busy April schedule. The international break could potentially turn into a distraction for Manchester City as they aim for more silverware this season.

Could the International break disrupt Manchester City?

City Thrive on Momentum

There are many reasons why the Sky Blue’s form has been so good in recent weeks. But one reason why is because they have been playing so regularly. Manchester City are playing and winning so consistently that the momentum has kept propelling them forward.

For Manchester City, winning every game is extremely important. City uses their successes and positive results to push themselves further. The more they win, the more they continue to win. The champions have shown great character and perseverance to grind out positive results, even when they weren’t at their best.

They looked down and out against Schalke and Swansea City and faced stubborn defensive sides like West Ham United and Bournemouth. All these matches ended in positive results.

Recent Form

City’s recent form has been exceptional. They are currently on an unbeaten streak since losing 2-1 to Newcastle United on January 30. City immediately bounced back, beating top-six rivals Arsenal 3-1 and Chelsea 6-0. They then beat Chelsea on penalties in the Carabao Cup final to claim their first piece of silverware this season.

Since then they have advanced to the quarterfinals in the FA Cup and Champions League. After looking like they were out of the title race at the end of January, City are now just two points behind Liverpool.

Up until now, City had been in action almost every three or four days. Playing every three or four days has kept the players completely focused. The next game was never too far away. The close proximity of games prevented players from being distracted and thinking too far into the future.

But, with the international break taking place, Manchester City will be out of action until the 30th of March. Thus, the momentum of playing every three or four days will come to an end. City’s next match will be at Craven Cottage against Fulham, a team fighting a possible relegation.

The hectic schedule suits Manchester City and the players agree. Bernardo Silva recently extended his contract and was asked during an interview afterwards how he was feeling after having played so many games this season. He responded by saying he prefers to play every few days.

“The most important thing is the mental part, when you wait seven, 10, 15 days to play another game it’s kind of boring and it’s not good.

“I like it when it’s each three or four days and I think it’s the best way.”

Rhythm and Routine

The international break could be unsettling to the players selected for a few reasons. When on international duty players are exposed to different team cultures, coaching techniques and footballing philosophies. The players also have to adapt to different training methods and tactics. All managers play a different style of football and players sometimes play in different positions.

The international break, as short as it is, has the potential to distract Man City. Pep’s players could be disrupted from their normal rhythm and the momentum that they currently have in all three competitions.

Increased Possibility of Injuries

Pep Guardiola will be hoping that those who have been selected to represent their countries will come back safely and uninjured, telling journalists “I pray that they come back fit.”

“They have to go there, play with their national team, enjoy, help their own national teams but, hopefully, they will come back fit like they are now.”

Current Injury Problems

There is always the possibility of injuries during an international break. Pep’s squad is already looking very thin. Benjamin Mendy, Kevin De Bruyne, John Stones, Fernandinho, Vincent Kompany and Nicolas Otamendi are all injured. Meanwhile, Aymeric Laporte and Gabriel Jesus only just returned from injuries that kept them out for several matches. Pep is right to be worried.

There is a very real possibility that Pep’s squad will have to play up to eight games in April. Guardiola will need everyone fit and healthy. Guardiola can’t afford to have any more players fall victim to a slight knock, tiredness or fatigue.

“With the fixtures we have in April we need everybody, it’s crazy.

“Everybody is going to play and Kevin, Ferna, John, Benjamin… they are all going to be back soon, and we need them.

“Even if some play 10 or 15 minutes here and there, we need everybody because we have got to this stage where we are still in with a chance of winning three more trophies.”

Lack of Rest

Injuries are always possible for players when they play so many games, at such a high intensity. Most of the players in the City squad have had a very long season. Many have had little to no break since the end of last season because of last year’s World Cup.

The majority of Pep’s squad will be away representing their nations. Only Sergio Aguero, David Silva and Aymeric Laporte are not on international duty. All three players have been key to City’s push for multiple trophies.

Because so many of Pep’s men are on international service, it is a missed opportunity. Some of Pep’s players probably do need some rest and time off. City already has a long list of casualties and any more could be damaging to their charge for more silverware.

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