5 Injured Players Who Missed the 2022 FIFA World Cup and How to Prevent Them In The Future

Dec 30, 2022

With the FIFA 2022 World Cup underway in Qatar, the world’s greatest footballers will graze the grandest stage again. Unfortunately, some of the greats missed the cup due to a nasty “I” word—injuries. This post will look at the players sidelined due to injury, their injuries, and how young players can avoid similar injuries. 


1. Karim Benzema (France) 

Type of injury: Muscle tear (left thigh)

When it happened: November 19, 2022, during a training session in Doha. 

Injury Description: Reports indicate Karim Benzema injured himself during a training session when he felt a “strong pain in his thigh” during a sprint session. An MRI revealed he’d torn a muscle and was ruled out of the tournament. 

How players can prevent it: Soccer conditioning drills such as Nordic hamstring curls can strengthen upper leg muscles and improve their architecture to make them more resilient. Dynamic exercises such as FIFA 11+ warm-up drills can improve neural efficiency so leg muscles can withstand rapid cuts and intense bursts of speed. 

2. Sadio Mane (Senegal)

Type of injury: Fibula injury (lower right leg) 

When it happened: November 8, 2022, during Bayern Munich’s 6-1 victory over Werder Bremen. 

Injury Description: Twenty minutes after the match began, Mane was substituted after a collision. Initially, he was listed as an active player for Senegal’s World Cup roster, but was later deemed unfit to play after scans revealed he needed surgical treatment. 

How players can prevent it: The fibula, a bone, needs soccer protective gear first and foremost. Shin guards and leg sleeves with impact protection reduce the force of collisions (from tackles and kicks) and by extension, lower the risk of fibula injuries. 

3. Arthur Melo (Brazil)

Type of injury: Thigh injury (left thigh) 

When it happened: Early October 2022, during a training session. 

Injury Description: Details have been relatively obscure about the nature of Melo’s injury, but it has been deemed as a “really serious” and “long-term injury.” The claims are believable since Melo had to undergo surgery and was ruled out from the World Cup and all play for at least three to four months. 

How players can prevent it: Assuming it’s a muscle injury, the best way to avoid a thigh injury is through soccer conditioning and dynamic warm-up drills. That includes the likes of Nordic hamstring curls, FIFA 11+ exercises, and strength training involving weights and bodyweight exercises. In some cases, overexertion is a cause of muscle injury, so players should focus on post-game recovery through percussion therapy, ice baths, and proper nutrition. 

4. Diogo Jota (Portugal)

Type of injury: Calf muscle injury (likely a Grade 2 tear to gastrocnemius or soleus muscle)

When it happened: October 18, 2022, during stoppage time in Liverpool’s match (and 1-0 victory) against Manchester City. 

Injury Description: Jota was taken off on a stretcher after suffering his injury, supporting Jurgen Klopp’s words that it was a “pretty serious injury.” To make matters worse, Jota was ruled out of action for months, including playing at the World Cup, although he didn’t need surgery. 

How players can prevent it: Soccer conditioning drills are the name of the game when trying to avoid calf muscle injuries. Exercises such as single-leg raises and calf raises can strengthen muscle architecture and reduce injury risk. Padded leg sleeves can reduce the impact of kicks and tackles, which occasionally cause muscle injuries through blunt trauma. 

5. Jesus “Tecatito” Corona (Mexico)

Type of injury: Fractured fibula, ligament damage (left ankle) 

When it happened: August 2022, during a training session.  

Injury Description: Few details were given about how he sustained the injury. However, it was described as “horrific” and “massive” by some media outlets, and doctors gave him a four-to five-month recovery time, ruling him out of World Cup play. 

How players can prevent it: Reducing the risk of fractures boils down to wearing soccer protective gear. In the case of a fibular fracture, padded leg guards and shin guards. Weight training can increase bone density but doesn’t fully protect bones against fractures. Soccer conditioning drills such as single-leg raises strengthen ligaments and can reduce the risk of them getting injured. 

Injury lessons to learn from football’s finest

Youth players especially need to remember that no one is immune to injury. Top-tier players can sustain injuries at any given moment, serving as a reminder of why even elite players need to focus on injury prevention. 

With that said, there are a few takeaways here. All the injuries mentioned in this post were leg injuries, which illustrates that leg injuries are the most common in soccer. Even some other players not mentioned on this list, including Reece James, Amine Harit and Timo Werner, suffered leg injuries. So players must be especially mindful of injury protection for their legs, ensuring they’re incorporating conditioning drills and protective gear for the lower body.  

Another takeaway is that three of the five players on this list suffered injuries during training sessions. A reminder for players here is a mental one. High-stakes games aren’t the only places where injuries happen. Treat your training sessions with the same mindset you do for games, and make sure you’re training safely, paying attention to conditioning, and recovery. 

The beautiful game can get ugly when injuries come into play, but a focus on injury prevention can help you sidestep the worst injuries can bring. Looking for more tips on safety and performance in soccer? Check out our blog for more insights. 

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