Dupont methodology: seven muscle injuries before September
Ten players have fallen from the Real Madrid squad list, and doubts are already being raised about the techniques of the World Cup winning trainer.
The star name transfers, and associated sums of money, made the Real Madrid headlines over the summer as Zinedine Zidane was given a chance to revolutionise a squad that had hugely disappointed in the season leading up to it. But arguably the most significant signing of the off-season was that of Grégory Dupont.
Dupont: where Real Madrid's fitness buck stops
The physical conditioning coach saw his reputation swell after France won the 2018 World Cup, and the Frenchman came in to replace Pintus who, after a deteriorating relationship with Zidane, left for Inter Milan. Los Blancos announced the trainer on their website with similar gusto to that usually reserved for new players. His country reaching the pinnacle of international football was achieved, notably, with the physicality and energy with which they were able to steamroll their opponents in Russia, and they did so without picking up a single injury. Following the problems of last year with Oscar Caro, the physical trainer under Lopetegui, upon whose shoulders much of the blame fell, the so-called 'Scientist' has arrived. "I am a researcher," he said. "I trust the scientific evidence, and I prefer to combine the research with the practical, two fields that only 15 years ago were not joined up."
The background | Real Madrid's Dupont laboratory: 10-point plan
In football at the very highest level, the big trophies are distributed in June, and the end-of-season judgement also applies to fitness coaches. It is clear, however, that Dupont's early steps in Madrid are not generating the confidence that had been expected.
Ahead of just the third game of the 2019/20 campaign, Zidane has already seen seven players drop out due to muscle injuries. He has been working with the group for less than two months, arriving on 8 July. In total, there have been ten injuries across the squad, many affecting the players brought in to give a fresh look to the side. Current estimates suggest it won't be until late September before the manager will be able to send out a side that resembles the new look promised.
It is true that Real Madrid had a demanding schedule across their preseason, including seven friendly matches against rivals in the mould of Bayern Munich, Arsenal, Atlético, Tottenham and Roma. Add to that the effort involved in the opening encounters against Celta and Valladolid and some understanding can be had for muscle injuries occuring. But the frequency with which Los Blancos are dropping has raised some concern in Chamartin.
The scheduling gods appear to be giving a little respite to Dupont, Zidane and the rest of the backroom team. After Sunday's game in Villarreal comes a two-week gap for international commitments when all hands will be on deck to recover the wounded troops. The objective is to reach game four with seven points out of nine in LaLiga - although they've only seen two wins in their last seven visits to La Cerámica - after which the true strength of the team can be unleashed with regularity. This, of course, will depend on the fitness of the group being maintained, and that is why all eyes will remain focused on Dupont and his science.
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