Off-Base Percentage is a weekly post about the lighter side of sports, mainly baseball. Whether it occurs on the field, in the locker room, or in the media, if it is a little ‘off-base’ then it is fair game. If you are looking for analysis of a player, team, or sport it won’t be found in this post. This is for the sports fan that wants to take a step back and look at sports from a ‘different’ angle. Enjoy.
This week I am going to venture away from the lighter side of sports, but still address a topic that is not as common when analyzing everyday sports–rest.
This afternoon Germany and Italy face off in the second semifinal of the 2012 Euros. From the reputations of the two countries this sounds like it will be a tough battle that may not be decided until the dreaded shootout. But, Germany has had forty-eight extra hours to get their legs back and to get prepared for this match.
Last Friday Germany defeated Greece 4-2 to reach the semis while Italy played Sunday against England and went through two overtimes and penalty kicks to decide who would advance. Portugal and Spain, who played yesterday also had the same predicament. Regardless of who wins these games I think that UEFA has their semifinal match ups backwards.
The way the quarterfinals were set up Portugal and Czech Republic played, then Germany/Greece, Spain/France, and Italy/England in that order. Each game was one day apart, which makes sense when it comes to getting viewers and making money. But logically, if Portugal and Spain are to meet in the semis then they should play on consecutive days to decrease any advantage in rest. It makes sense just to switch the Germany quarterfinal with Spain’s quarterfinal so that there is minimal disadvantage and more time for teams to travel after the game if it is necessary.
At this level of soccer, the more time you can prepare for a game the better. Some players, especially midfielders, can run more in ninety-plus minutes than either you or I could run in twice the time. It takes a lot out of players. Many of the players are in their thirties and need the extra downtime to recover. It also gives the managers more time to game plan for their possible next opponents.
One can argue that maybe Germany and Portugal had too much rest, but in soccer a week’s rest is not that much. Just like football (not saying they take the same type of physical beating), it lets the banged up players get healthy and it gives more time to focus on the task ahead. Yes, many of these players are used to two games a week in their professional season depending on how many leagues and tournaments they are in, but this is normally their off season. Some of these players might be running on empty.
No rest may not have as much of an impact as I think, but if you ask Italy it may be the least of their worries. The Italians also had to travel much farther than their opponent Germany to the next match. Oh, and not to mention they have to play the powerful and star-studded German squad. But for all I know, Italy might come out and walk all over Germany. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, soccer is an unforgiving sport.
Who will win this afternoon? Should UEFA change their tournament schedule? Let me know in the comment section or on Twitter @Believelander.
Keep your eyes peeled and ears open for the MTAF Podcast too. It’s on iTunes!