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Although national leagues will always be the defining factor when choosing the best teams in the world, the Champions League title will always be the one attracting thousands of fans around the world.

Winning this title isn’t easy though. Top teams make preparations for years to regularly fail when committing their resources into winning it, or advancing through it as much as possible, any specific season.

The reason behind this dynamic is the sheer amount of money UEFA grants clubs for advancing through this continental tourney.

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The Financial Distribution

For teams like Barcelona, Manchester United, and Real Madrid, winning the title is about status and pride, but for the vast majority of clubs within UEFA, advancing through the Champions League means more money will enter the club, and that’s always a good thing.

It’s better to keep advancing even knowing your team is going to lose next time.

The Fitness War

Nowadays teams aren’t just training their skills on the field and doing jumping jacks to boost their cardio. These pro athletes are following strict nutrition and fitness programs which have been specially designed for them.

The programs consider lots of variables your generic gym won’t even think about when you train.

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The pro football scene skyrocketed in the last five years and now teams are preparing their bodies in ways never seen before. The fact that most teams playing Champions League matches regularly are some of the fittest in UEFA isn’t just a coincidence.

Long gone are those days in which raw talent would define close high-level matches.

The new trend is for clubs to find really talented players, who are also genetic outliers, and make them train from a young age, not just skill but raw physical power.

This dynamic is producing some of the fittest generations of players pro soccer has ever seen, and this trend isn’t going anywhere, as fittest teams are the ones winning in the last years.

Big Results for Fit Teams

Liverpool was the last Champions League winner, one of the most intense teams in the world and definitely the fittest this season, and Chelsea was the Europa League winner, another Premier League tactical-oriented physical team.

On top of that, the last World Cup-winning team, France, is comprised of tall, fast, and powerful players.

The trend is pretty self-explanatory. Currently, physical traits are winning over technical prowess when players are being drafted and it doesn’t seem to be stopping anywhere in the near future.

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On top of that, these players are all being trained to become extremely good with the ball on their feet, and it shows!

It’s easy to see why teams are focusing on their fitness more than ever before and how the Champions League is changing how clubs create and design their seasons’ conditioning protocols.

Every team wants a piece of the pie and the price to pay seems to be the extreme focus in fitness in order to compete with the best.

While high pressure and high intensity-oriented teams keep winning most titles, players taking advantage of their physical traits will mostly be the ones drafted and highlighted.

This is ultimately changing the way football is played by an entire generation of players who’re watching these events and practicing while dreaming about the world cup.

FeaturedPost Is Sports Media Fair with Footballers Fitness Conditioning Level 840x385 - Is Sports Media Fair with Footballers' Fitness Conditioning Level?

Sports media love to praise soccer players and clubs’ performance and fitness conditioning level when everything is going fine, but they also are the first ones to criticize when results aren’t going their way.

Is this behavior from the press able to help soccer players improving their overall performance?

Having the press praising specific players’ overall performance will play an important part in their minds. The press becomes a key component in the sport’s dynamic in this scenario, as it sheds light on the positive traits the player has to offer.

On the contrary, when the press criticizes players when results start to fail, it will create a negative mindset. Players may develop some sort of ‘fear’ for what the sports media will claim when things are going south.

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When players feel happy on the field after training the right way, it’s almost impossible for them not to enter a good streak, building confidence and improving their overall performance in the process.

This will help soccer players to stay focused on training the proper way, as the happier the fans, the happier the club, and the happier the press.

When players start to feel too much pressure to reach the desired performance level, most of them develop minor flawed behaviors which could lower their skill ceiling. The press should be there to improve their outlook instead of messing up their mindset.

Players now are forced to develop a thick skin to bypass all of this pressure.

Bombarding players and clubs with negative tweets and DMs, saying they are running slow, getting fat, or failing too many shots, will only add up to the psychological pressure.

This dynamic could damage the sport in the long run, as players may develop depression, motivational problems, and bad work ethics.

FeaturedPost The 3 Fittest Soccer Teams in Europe 840x385 - The 3 Fittest Soccer Teams in Europe

2019 has been flooded with magnificent shots, goals, and saves. After watching the Champions League final match on June 1st, it’s hard not to consider Liverpool as one of the fittest soccer teams in Europe.

We will share a short list of teams for people to see if fitness conditioning and winning titles are related to one another.

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Liverpool

The now 6-times UEFA Champions League-winner, Liverpool, has shown it’s one of the strongest teams in the Premier League throughout the entire 2018-2019 season.

Although Jurgen Klopp is one of the most demanding coaches in UEFA, he has proved he knows how to make his players get in shape over the years.

Liverpool and Klopp are doing everything they can to get players in shape by performing weighted sprint runs and harsh workout routines. This will help players to play like the coach likes to: high-pressure straight-forward soccer with fast runners who know how, when, and where to shoot the ball.

PostImage The 3 Fittest Soccer Teams in Europe Manchester City - The 3 Fittest Soccer Teams in Europe

Manchester City

Another Premier League team currently showing how fit its players are on the soccer field is Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City. The team won this season’s Premier League title, with Liverpool as a close second contender, and showed its overall fitness conditioning level is still as high as it can get under Guardiola’s watch.

As if we were in front of an FC Barcelona franchise, Manchester City’s coach love to make his players practice drills, restricted-space movements, turn-a-rounds, and accurate passes between them to imprint his signature ‘tiki-taka’ play style.

France National Team

The current World Cup-winner, France, is flooded with tall, strong, and fast players who make the team look like a soccer-oriented machine. The average height in France’s national team is 1,81 m, with N’Golo Kanté being the smallest at 1,68 m and Steven N’zonzi being the tallest at 1,95 m.

PostImage The 3 Fittest Soccer Teams in Europe France National Team - The 3 Fittest Soccer Teams in Europe

The entire game strategy for France relies on Antoine Griezman, a man with lots of mental skills to understand the game and a good amount of physical prowess to play properly. He likes to move between lines by winning the opponents’ back on the soccer field.

Although innate skills are important for soccer players to win, a great fitness conditioning program is key if boosting those innate skills is their number one priority. Learn from pro players and step up your game by training the same way they do.

FeaturedPost Train like Them World Cup Superstars Training Protocols 840x385 - Train like Them - World Cup Superstars' Training Protocols

It takes long for pro players to have the chance to win a World Cup, or at least get to the final match, as the tournament takes place every 4 years. It takes a lot of luck and excellent performances involved in order to participate.

In order to boost the odds, getting into the best shape possible before the World Cup is mandatory. Learn how players do it here.

Strength and conditioning training programs can be divided into three different types before a big tournament like the World Cup.

The 3 different approaches pro players should have to follow considering their overall fitness conditioning level are field-based conditioning, gym-based conditioning, and injury prevention, as they improve different health aspects.

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Gym-Based Conditioning Training

Players will train power and strength during this phase. Most players can be seen performing many squats variations such as pistol squats, Bulgarian squats, and regular squats to strengthen the lower body while combining them with fast and explosive movements like jumps and hops. Doing 8 to 10 reps with a heavy weight for 3 sets will do.

After the tournament has already started, the gym-based phase is put on hold for a while, as the main focus is on recovery and preservation instead of increasing strength.

Field-Based Conditioning Training

Some of the countless drills players perform in order to develop speed include sprinting, running in zig-zag formation, and jump-and-sprint drills. While all players perform general fitness drills, field-based conditioning training relies on working the moves demanded by their specific position on the pitch.

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The defenseman should train one-on-one situations, strikers should train strength and accuracy while they shoot, and center-halves should train jumps and headers in order to win the ball in the air.

This will help the players to focus on the little details before integrating the overall strategy used for the game.

Injury Prevention Training

When players are preparing for the World Cup, the injury prevention training phase is extremely important. This is the perfect time to do some recovery exercises and take care of any small injury.

Strengthening ligaments, muscles, and overall bone structure will help players avoid injuries.

For every soccer enthusiast eager to improve their fitness conditioning and overall performance, learning from the pros and imitating what they do is a nice way to stay motivated on their journey to becoming the next Lionel Messi.

FeaturedPost The Simple Drill behind FC Barcelonas Success 840x385 - The Simple Drill behind FC Barcelona's Success

Barcelona FC’s way of producing lots of young soccer-oriented soldiers in an organized way is something which amazes a large crowd of coaches around the world.

The technique, the work ethics, and even the capacity to adapt showcased by players from La Masia is nothing but extraordinary and the trend is not going anywhere.

Barcelona’s present team is not highlighting the club’s core values when it comes to its legendary play style, as last seasons have been important in regards to the first team’s playstyle revolution after Ernesto Valverde took the coach’s seat.

However, La Masia and the club as a whole keep training young players while following the traditional rules created by Johan Cruyff.

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The Guy Who Came Up with It

Although Barcelona’s team wasn’t all that big when Johan Cruyff arrived at the club, he took charge and led the team though unforgettable victories during his time as a player for the first team.

While his contribution to the club while playing was amazing, the real Cruyff factor, which led Barcelona to its current status, was added during his coaching years.

One Drill, One Champion

Cruyff created a simple drill to train all aspects of a soccer match without using weird paraphernalia, just several players arranged in a match-like scenario. Marc Carmona, head education coach in the club, explained that their program emphasizes on the three Ps.

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The first one, being a possession, is about not losing the ball. Position revolves around which team is better located in the pitch, and finally pressure, which comprises movements to win back the ball after losing possession.

The drill is called Rondo and for some coaches, it’s the quintessential drill which drove Barcelona’s success in the last 15 years.

The Game

Rondos are a simple game of monkey-in-the-middle or keep-away. If someone in the team asked to keep possession, which always has a numerical advantage, loses the ball, they’ll have to join the defending team, trading positions with a defender.

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Futsal for Skilled Players

According to Xavi Hernandez, futsal is great to build better technique and ball control. In reality, La Masia uses futsal as a way to create better soccer players for the large-sized pitch. As tight spaces force players to develop their creativity and dribbling skills, futsal is a great sport for soccer players who tend to rely on their physical prowess too much.

Watching futsal matches lets scouts spot talented players easier, as physical power isn’t rewarded as much. In a soccer pitch, stronger guys will always be relevant, but the way futsal forces these players to work actually makes them better.

You now know how to set up a Rondo circle with a group. Start practicing and get your soccer skills up to the roof with this simple drill.