Professional footballers are gearing up for the ultimate clash of the titans at the 22nd edition of the FIFA World Cup in Qatar. The tournament kicks off on November 20 and is anticipated to be a memorable event considering it is likely the last time football fans will see icons like Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo represent their national teams at a FIFA event.
Although a new crop of football superstars has spent the last four years chasing the World Cup ticket, some may not have the chance to play for their country owing to untimely injuries.
Amongst the unfortunately hurt players is 2018 World Cup winner, France’s N’Golo Kante, who might miss this year’s mega event as he recently underwent surgery due to a hamstring injury. The former Leicester City star last appeared on August 14 in Chelsea’s 2-2 draw against Tottenham. Kante, who is largely viewed as one of the best midfielders in the world, was an integral part of France’s World Cup championship run in Russia in 2018. However, the nation’s prospects of successfully defending their title have taken another hit without their star man, who joins Boubacar Kamara and Paul Pogba on the injured list.
The defending champions are set to kick off their World Cup campaign on November 23 at the Al Wakrah Sports Complex, where they take on Australia in a Group D fixture, followed by a showdown against Denmark on November 26 at Stadium 974. France are still clear favourites to advance from their group, according to experts betting online in Australia. Nonetheless, unexpected outcomes are possible, especially when considering that Paul Pogba, one of football’s shining lights, had a knee injury in the preseason. The ace footballer tried conservative treatment in the hopes of keeping his World Cup ambition alive, but in September agreed to undergo surgery. Although the 29-year-old mid-fielder returned to training with Juventus, he is still doubtful if he’ll be in his best condition to make the Les Bleus’ roster for Qatar 2022.
Reece James is another player to join the squad of those sidelined by injury. The Englishman suffered knee damage during Chelsea’s 2-0 victory over AC Milan earlier this month and has been warned that he will miss at least two months of action as a result. The defender was “obviously devasted” by the unexpected injury as this would have been his first World Cup opportunity, something the 22-year-old defender has dreamt about ever since being a kid. James has promised to keep fans “updated with what’s happening on a day-to-day basis,” stating that even though “the injury has come at the wrong time,” he would try his best to make it to Qatar.
Paulo Dybala, who was supposed to play a vital part alongside Lionel Messi and Angel Di Maria for the World Cup favourites Argentina, pulled up hobbling after scoring the winning penalty in Roma’s 2-1 victory against Lecce, putting his national squad’s chances of hoisting the cup in serious risk. According to sources, the forward has been diagnosed with a torn rectus femoris in his left quadriceps, which will likely put him out of action for four to eight weeks. Argentina takes on Saudi Arabia on November 22, and although Dybala has a long history of injuries from which he has recovered, this one could be the most consequential of his career.
Managers and coaches are rushing to put together a formidable World Cup lineup before FIFA announces the final roster on November 14. However, a spate of unforeseen injuries means that surprises are to be expected when the tournament begins in Qatar.
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