Spanish outlet AS has cited a study conducted at Celtic as a principal inspiration for Real Madrid’s strategy of not rotating high-profile first-team players recently.
After returning to the La Liga side back in 2019, Zinedine Zidane appointed Gregory Dupont as his head of performance, primarily focused on the fitness of his squad of superstars.
If that’s a name familiar to you, there’s a good reason.
Dupont was head of sports science at Celtic during Gordon Strachan’s reign. The Frenchman spent two years at Lennoxtown between 2007 and 2009.
During his time in Scotland, he conducted a study titled “Effect of 2 soccer matches in a week on physical performance and injury rate”. The American Journal of Sports Medicine published it in 2010.
Dupont monitored the fitness and injuries at Celtic over the two seasons, concluding: “The recovery time between 2 matches, 72 to 96 hours, appears sufficient to maintain the [players’] level of physical performance.”
That assessment is what AS reckon has influenced Zidane’s decision to play Thibaut Courtois, Raphaël Varane, Ferland Mendy, Toni Kroos, Luka Modric, Lucas Vázquez, Vinícius Júnior and Karim Benzema in four Madrid matches across 11 days recently.
The Spanish giants won all four, putting their season back on track.
The study goes on to say that while there is no performance degradation between matches in this timeframe, it does increase the potential for injury.
Fernando S. Tavero’s entire article on AS is a fascinating read and well worth your time if you want more insight on how this Celtic precedent may be informing one of the biggest teams in the world right now.