Soapbox Suzy: No more midseason friendlies!

Sleeping Atletico Madrid fans

Atleti players caught napping
(Source: Filipe Luís; Instagram)

After the typical post match training session on Sunday morning, Atlético’s players were not released to a quiet day off to enjoy with family and friends.

No, instead of taking advantage of having a  full week without European competition or national team World Cup qualifying duties to recover sore muscles and train, the players and coaching staff were put on a plane by the higher-ups for a five-hour flight to Azerbaijan.

When the shirt deal with Azerbaijan was announced, it was published in the statement that, as part of the deal, the Rojiblancos would visit the “Land of Fire” for a friendly. There is nothing wrong  with including something like that as part of the deal, but why do we have to play that friendly during the ongoing season?

Wouldn’t it be better to use the summer break and the preparation time before the new season starts for that visit? Or maybe directly after the last match of the season, like we did last season with the trip to Colombia?

I understand that we need to use the few possibilities we have to gain publicity for the club and to “explore new markets,” but do we have to do that in the middle of the season?

It’s really rare that a club makes a trip like that for a friendly with league games still left to play,  and I have to say I’m completely opposed to these trips. Schedule them before or after the season, but not while  it’s still ongoing and in its final (and decisive) phase!

Thank God no one got injured in that match. Imagine, for example, Falcao picking up an injury and missing the cup final because of a stupid friendly against the Azerbaijan all-star team, which was no real opponent at all.

Additionally, I believe that it is also a disadvantage for our players not being at home. As a professional football player you get used to life on the road, sleeping in hotel beds instead of your own (although I believe the hotel beds they sleep in are more comfy than the average person’s at home), but don’t I think you never really get used to it.

You want to pass your time between training sessions playing with your child instead of visiting with the president of Azerbaijan. Being at home is relaxing; no matter how unstressful they try to make that trip, for the players, it will always be stressful. And they’re not just flying over, training once and flying back, like they did for European competition. They also had a large itinerary of things to do and people to see.

Filipe posted a picture of the last row of the Atleti bus asleep on a drive to the next stop of their visit. Seeing the players like that shows that it wasn’t  just a “fun trip” for them, but more like one of those sightseeing city tours after which you just want to fall into your bed.

To top it off, they arrived back in Madrid yesterday morning at 6 A.M. and had to be back at the training facility 12 hours later. For me personally, that would never work, and I would surely not be able to do my best after a night like that.

In general, it seems as if to be a professional football player, you have to gain the ability to fall asleep anytime, anywhere, invoking the adage “the soldier that does not have a task, is resting”. But isn’t this pushing it a little more than necessary?

The “resting” of the players on that trip is not comparable to the rest they would have gotten at home. The fact that Atleti will travel to A Coruña on the day of the match and not, as usual, on the night before to make up for the trip shows just how much rest the players need.

Yes, it was part of the deal with Azerbaijan but in my opinion it was unnecessary.  Fatigue might be a disadvantage for us. I can think of a thousand better ways they could have spent their day.

Just think about the 12 wasted hours to fly to and back from Azerbaijan, and what “Profe” Ortega could have done with the guys on the training ground in that time!

  • Martin Rosenow

    Seriously, it would have been a major catastrophe if one of our starters would have gotten hurt there.

    Great points Suzy!

  • Robel Solomon

    Totally agree with you, Susanne. Guess we’ll see on Saturday what kinda impact this lil trip’s had on the team.

  • Jimbo_With_the_Dancingshoes

    Now I think it never was in the plans to player any of our big stars. I know koke, costa, mario did all play but with the tempo the match was played in there were never really a danger of them picking up an injury. On the bright side Villa got his debut, oliver scored a goal and a lot of our fringe players got some playing time. so for me it wasn´t all bad.

    ps. suzy, they did train there. Not sure if mr. Ortega was in on that, but surely cholo Simeone was. So it wasn´t because we´d actually lost a training session. but I so get your point, and do also follow you most of the way 😀

  • starvs

    When the club is a broke as it is, gotta do what you gotta do :/

    Dance puppet, dance.

  • Raed Shalak

    a “disrespect-able” article !!
    yes you were right with some points but you should be respectable about Azerbaijan… there is always limits to exaggerate..!

  • Ahmad Hossainy

    well, as @starvs said : we are a broke club, so we really didn’t have a choice, we couldn’t say no and I believe we will do it again if we have to

    we did it last season in November when Atleti was here in Egypt in the celebrations of the 100th anniversary of Egypt’s giant Zamalek (sadly I could not attend that game at the stadium)

    and Susanne, why are you making a big deal of it, Real played in Turkey few weeks ago (which is not so far from Azerbaijan) .. this could be us next season, in fact we all wish that !!

  • Gert

    I agree the timing was a bit silly, but if it’s part of the deal, it’s part of the deal. Also, our players are paid enough to be gone from their families for 2 days.