Real Madrid Wins UEFA Super Cup, Await the Burdens of Club World Cup

Created on Aug. 13, 2014 10:29 AM EST

Yesterday, two goals from Cristiano Ronaldo lifted Real Madrid to victory over Sevilla in the UEFA Super Cup. The match confirmed Madrid's superiority on the European continent and gives them an early trophy as they prepare to mount a defense of their UEFA Champions League crown. The win also begins the additional burden that Real Madrid face as defending champions, the obligation to participate in the Club World Cup. The FIFA Club World Cup takes place in December in Marrakesh, Morocco and will be an additional two match burden on the legs of Madrid's players. 

The strain of international travel will be slightly eased for Real Madrid, with only a short flight to Morocco. However, the additional competition means that Madrid will have to add two extra matches to their already congested schedule. Real Madrid will have to reschedule at least two La Liga matches, including clashes with Almeria and a rematch of yesterday's clash against Sevilla.  These matches preempted for one match against a much lower caliber club, but in the final they will find an opponent motivated by the financial rewards of victory and the prestige of being declared the best club in the world for 2014.

In past seasons European clubs have seen the toll that these fixtures can take on their squads. In December 2011, Barcelona participated in the Club World Cup taking place in Japan. In their semi-final match against Asian champions Al-Sadd, David Villa suffered a broken leg following an awkward effort to get on the end of a cross. He missed the remainder of the season for Barcelona and missed out on Euro 2012 with Spain. Barcelona would go on to win the Club World Cup, but fell short in both La Liga and the UEFA Champions League. Pep Guardiola resigned from his post at the end of the season.

In the 2012 iteration of the Club World Cup, Chelsea successfully outclassed Monterrey following their Champions League glory. In the final they were met with a Corinthians side that proved they were no pushovers by defeating the Blues 1-0 on a Guerrero goal. Chelsea went on to play 69 matches in total that season, ultimately winning the UEFA Europa League after crashing out of the Champions League. Chelsea also fell short in the Premier League, FA Cup, and League cup. Despite the Europa League trophy, Chelsea and manager Rafa Benitez parted ways at the end of the season.

Modern football takes an extraordinary toll on the bodies of players. Additional matches for essentially meaningless trophies exacerbate problems with an already congested fixture list. Spain is a country that benefits from a small break in late December, however they will be forced to reschedule La Liga matches, possibly during that scheduled break. Real Madrid possesses a wealth of squad depth to help them compete on multiple fronts, but the specter of playing at least 60 competitive matches will still weigh heavily on the legs and minds of Madrid's elite players.

Success in the Champions League comes with the responsibility of representing Europe. Will Madrid welcome the challenge and succeed, or will they succumb to physical and mental fatigue? Carlo Ancelotti will certainly have his hands full managing egos and fitness of Madrid's superstars. 
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