The Cup Running Over

June 5, 2010 3:05 PM

Are Premier League Players More Likely to Get Hurt At the World Cup?

Players are dropping like flies, particularly the leading ones. In the past two days, we have seen a slew of World Cup stars go down with tournament-ending injuries: England's captain Rio Ferdinand, Cote D'Ivoire's talismanic Didier Drogba, Nigeria's Jon Obi Mikel, and today Slovakia's star defender Martin Skrtel and Holland's Arjen Robben look set to join the ever-expanding list. Germany's Michael Ballack and Ghana's Michael Essien have also been ruled out in the last two weeks.

Is there a pattern? It's interesting to note how many of these stars ply their trade in the English Premier League - of the recent list only Robben plays his club football somewhere else, at Germany's Bayern Munich. Much has been written about the Premier League's grueling schedule - with teams forced to compete for the league in addition to the FA and Carling Cups, not to mention European competition, the season drags on - even the mid-table club Fulham played 59 matches this past season. With no real break before the World Cup begins, players may be at their limit.

Premier League players are dropping  like flies. (Courtesy Tri-Cities)

Although the seemingly endless season has played a role, it could be the Premier League's more physical style of play that is truly the culprit. Players based in other leagues, where the top clubs play a season equally grueling, appear to be staying slightly more fit; it is perhaps no coincidence that the only fitness question marks in Spain's squad hang over Cesc Fabregas and Fernando Torres - - two of the only players in the team to play outside of Spain in the Premier League.

What this means is that England, a squad comprised entirely of players from the Premier League, may only be beginning to see its share of injuries. Don't be shocked if another handful of stars go down as the tournament progresses.

Steven and Harrison Stark are the co-authors of World Cup 2010: The Indispensable Guide to Soccer and Geopolitics, recently published by Blue River Press. They are analyzing the World Cup for Real Clear Sports.

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