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This Saturday, June 19, the French team will face Hungary in Budapest, at 3 pm, for its second match of Euro 2020. A temperature of 32 ° and a blazing sun are expected in the Hungarian capital at the time of match. How did the Blues staff adapt to these special conditions, what could they put in place during the meeting to face this heat? The answer in this article.
Stifling heat. This is what awaits the French team this Saturday at 3 p.m. in Budapest. It must be said that the thermometer has largely exceeded 30 ° for a week in the Hungarian capital and that this will still be the case during the meeting. Obviously, this will not be the first time that the players of the France team will evolve under a strong heat in the afternoon but it always requires a period of adaptation.
Fortunately for Didier Deschamps’ men, they have been subjected to temperatures close to 30 ° in France or Germany for about ten days. They will therefore not really suffer from thermal shock but the fact of playing at 3 p.m., that is to say the moment when the heat will be strongest and, moreover, at an unusual time for the Blues since the start of their preparation, changes the situation quite a bit.
“It’s true that things change (to play at 3pm, editor’s note) but you get used to it. There it is 12:30 pm and we have already had lunch. We’re going to train at 3 p.m., which will be match time, and tomorrow I think we’re going to train at the same time. We therefore have two days to prepare to adapt to this schedule. It’s a different schedule, particular even if personally I’m used to it since in Germany, we often play at that time. It changes but it will be up to us to adapt and get used to it as quickly as possible ”, also indicated Lucas Hernandez at a press conference Thursday.
Why acclimatize to the heat?
If the Blues have changed their habit for the match against Hungary, it is precisely to better acclimatize to the heat. But why ? What is the consequence of high heat for the players? First of all, it is important to indicate that the hot weather promotes dehydration, which a factor in lower performance and which also promotes cramps and discomfort. Through physical activity, the body already produces heat that it must evacuate through sweat to maintain its normal temperature (which is 37.5 °). However, the hotter it is, the higher the body temperature may be, so the body will produce more sweat. But who says loss of sweat says loss of water, which contains electrolytes (minerals) which are essential for the proper functioning of the body. Which therefore leads to dehydration.
The other consequences of heat are an increase in heart and respiratory rate, a decrease in brain activity with in particular less lucidity as well as an increase in reaction times, which can contribute to more errors. techniques and slower decision-making. Players therefore have every interest in acclimating to the heat because this will allow their body to better self-regulate and respond better to these particular conditions.
How to acclimatize to the heat?
Acclimatization to the heat is one of the fundamentals of physical preparation in team sports because major competitions are usually contested in summer. What could complicate the task of the staff of Didier Deschamps, it is the fact of having to play the Euro in several European countries and under different temperatures. Considering the short time available between two matches, acclimatization to high temperatures is a headache, especially when you know that the ideal time to acclimatize to very high temperatures is generally five days.
Not benefiting from this deadline, the French staff, whose training planning is meticulous, went about it differently and tried to limit the damage as much as possible by scheduling training at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, the day after France- Germany. The objective is obviously to get the players used to evolving at this time when the sun is strong. Even if it is the substitutes who found themselves on the field and that the holders were at rest, Wednesday, the staff thought to bring forward the time of the meals and the training to accustom the organizations to be activated earlier in the day. .
Ideally, to acclimatize well to the heat, you need to be able to train in very hot weather or in conditions that simulate high temperatures. Some national team physical trainers did not hesitate to install exercise bikes in hammams during the 2014 World Cup, to simulate the very high heat and humidity of the city of Manaus, located in the Amazon. In Budapest, the humidity should be 40%, which does not require special adaptation. Training at 3 p.m., under the blazing sun, is more than enough even if two days are not really enough to acclimatize well.
Strategies to put in place to fight against the heat
As the Blues do not have enough time to acclimatize well to the hot weather in Budapest, other strategies could be put in place to counter this heat. The first is very simple, it is a question of hydrating well. As we explained to you in a previous article, players will inevitably be dehydrated during the match. The objective for the staff of the Blues is to ensure that they are not dehydrated before the start of the meeting.
This is why players should be particularly attentive and serious at this level in the hours leading up to the match. Ideally, their drinks should contain mineral salts, since they will lose some in their sweat, and carbohydrates (sugars) which are the essential suppliers of the energy they will produce in the field and whose stocks will be depleted. deplore as the meeting progresses. The players should also take advantage of the game breaks to rehydrate.
Another tip to be adopted by players and well known to runners: pre-cooling. It is simply a cooling-down strategy to be performed before the start of the meeting. The goal is to preserve the players as much as possible from the heat before and during the start of the match. During Euro 2012 in Poland and Ukraine, we could see players like Karim Benzema wearing cold vests, Cryovest, during training and pre-match warm-ups.
By keeping the skin temperature relatively low, players will save a little time before accumulating a lot of heat inside the body. This strategy can be crucial and effective in making the difference from the first minutes of the game. The cold jackets can be replaced by cold towels or by swallowing crushed ice always to cool the body temperature before the start of the game. At the break, it would also be wise for the players to evolve with new and dry outfits.
An essential adaptation to the match schedule
In a pre-match press conference, Didier Deschamps pointed out above all the necessary adaptations to the match schedule: “The day after the match in Germany, we switched to training at 3pm to fit in with the match schedule. And obviously that leads to changes in the planning of the day, whether it’s lunchtime and then also sleep hours, which is very important for the players. As this is a generation that tends to go to bed a little late, we make sure to regulate that. When we play in the evening, we have the afternoon to plan the nap which can be recuperative. But I repeat, since the match in Munich, the next day, we made sure to settle down and get used to the body and the head to what will await us on Saturday. “
In a previous article, we explained to you just how important sleep management is for performance in the field. After the match against Germany, the players had three days or rather three nights to settle at a new pace, including an earlier rise. It is therefore a safe bet that some players have accumulated a sleep debt in recent days, which they will happily be able to fill the day after or two days after the match against Hungary with a long nap.
The biggest pitfall for the players is that the schedule of the match against Hungary corresponds to the usual schedule of the nap but the adrenaline of a Euro match should easily allow them to overcome any drowsiness. at this time of day. This is also an issue that players are familiar with during the season with league matches which can take place in the afternoon on weekends and European Cup matches in the evening during the week, so they do not. shouldn’t have a hard time adjusting.
Turnover and crucial management of weak and strong times
Against Hungary, it would not be surprising to see Didier Deschamps reshuffle his team and bring in new blood, to preserve some players. The game against Germany was particularly intense physically and could have left some scars. To allow some players to recover well, the coach of the Blues could turn from the second game in order to put his “typical team” against Portugal.
In addition to physically preserving some players, rotating his workforce would also offer Didier Deschamps the advantage of integrating and completely mobilizing the replacements in the collective quest. Revamped or not, the France team should no matter what happens to suffer from the heat, just like Hungary even if it plays at home and has had more time to acclimatize to the local heat.
This is why the tactical management of the match will also be crucial. Will the Blues perform strong pressing from the start of the game to take advantage of their physical freshness and make the difference quickly before gradually retreating to better counter? Or on the contrary, will they make sure to keep the ball in the Hungarians’ camp to exhaust them and preserve themselves physically at the same time? Regardless of their strategy, the management of high and low times could be even more crucial in these hot conditions. Fortunately for Didier Deschamps, he has players capable of optimizing a very short strong time as much as possible as well as making the most of a very long weak time. A luxury that does not have Marco Rossi, the coach of Hungary.