Players and coaches across the world might have other competitions to play for, but there is no doubt the focus is now firmly on the World Cup for many. It will be the apex of some careers, but also an incredibly stressful time.
At least for Rodrigo de Paul. The Argentine midfielder is currently on duty with the Albiceleste, where he is expected to play a key for Lionel Scaloni in the World Cup. During last summer’s Copa America, he was one of the stand out players as Argentina secured their first trophy in over two decades.
“I always say that I don’t want it to start, because I probably won’t enjoy it. It’s a lot of pressure, competition, you’re very on edge and anxious, it is very difficult to enjoy it. I try to enjoy all of this process, I hope that it will turn into more, sometimes I struggle. No doubt it will be crazy. You live very concentrated and the criticism can be very damaging at times.”
While not explicitly referencing in it, the Atletico Madrid midfielder hints at the impact on the mental health of a tournament that large, or at least the incredible emotional strain.
“So you try to do your job as best as possible. I enjoy the build-up, drinking mate, the week of training, but when the competition starts, I struggle. That, but at a World Cup, the competition is more important and the one that you always dream of, I know that, knowing myself, it will be very difficult for me, everything.”