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There’s a theory that the best 12th man this World Cup will be players’ beds

Rest and recuperation could play a major role at this summer's tournament

Russia’s pretty big, isn’t it?

In fact, it’s the biggest country on the planet, with a staggering eleven different time zones.

So as you’d imagine, travelling around the country for the World Cup is fairly daunting and the various teams at the tournament are racking up some seriously impressive air miles.


DREAM TEAM WORLD CUP It’s not too late to sign up to this summer’s brilliant game!!


England, for example, will clock up a total of 6,556 kilometres to face Tunisia in Volgograd, Panama in Nizhny Novgorod and Belgium in Kaliningrad.

But will being on the move play a part on who wins the World Cup this summer?

These guys will be clocking some serious air miles

AP:Associated Press
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These guys will be clocking some serious air miles

According to a report by Kitman Labs entitled ‘The Impact of Sleep and Travel on Performance during the World Cup’, travelling between games could make all the difference.

The fixtures will be split between 12 venues across 11 cities, and match schedules will see teams travel almost 10,000km at times, sometimes in the space of 14 hours.

The report finds that teams required to travel further face an uphill battle to avoid under-performing, with research studies finding a direct correlation between sleep and travel and the impact on player recovery and performance.

Some teams will have to travel long distances in less than 14 hours between fixtures

AFP or licensors
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Some teams will have to travel long distances in less than 14 hours between fixtures

Take Mohamed Salah, for example, the hero of Egypt’s World Cup.

The Liverpool star is still recovering from a nasty shoulder injury he picked up in the Champions League final last month, and his recovery could be hampered by the fact that Egypt will be on the move quite a lot.

The Pharaohs will clock up nearly 10,000km in return journeys from their Grozny training base to play their Group A fixtures – which is SIX times further than Colombia, the nation with the shortest distance to travel at 1,442km.

The lack of rest-time could harm Salah’s recovery

AFP
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The lack of rest-time could harm Salah’s recovery

As you’d expect, lack of sleep is often the by-product of long journeys, evening games and fixture congestion and can affect the important post-match recovery process.

This could be good news for host nation Russia and Lionel Messi’s Argentina, who will both enjoy rather short journeys in the group stages.

But it’s bad news for the likes of Nigeria, Sweden and Switzerland, as well as Egypt, who all face gruelling travel schedules.

Argentina have a big advantage over their World Cup rivals

AP:Associated Press
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Argentina have a big advantage over their World Cup rivals

Pierre Barrieu, a FIFA advisor and LA Galaxy’s Director of Sports Performance, weighed in on the importance of recovery time at the World Cup, saying: “The one thing coaches can control is altering training times and being flexible based on what [they] are monitoring from the players.

“The greatest challenge to sleep will come from the initial flight to Russia, and teams will want to have sufficient time on site to recover.

“That is why European teams may have an advantage.”


DREAM TEAM WORLD CUP It’s not too late to sign up to this summer’s brilliant game!