Barcelona World11

Bonmati, Bronze and Walsh among players with highest workload for 2023/24


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Barcelona World11
  • Workload data released by FIFPRO and Football Benchmark illustrates workload demands of elite-level players ahead of Women’s Champions League final

  • Barcelona midfielders Aitana Bonmati and Keira Walsh are among players that have amassed the most back-to-back minutes going into their continental final with Olympique Lyonnais

  • Bonmati and Lucy Bronze began their competitive 2023/24 season in Europe just 27 days after playing in the World Cup final in Australia – highlighting players’ lack of physical and mental recovery at top level of women’s football

Aitana Bonmati and Keira Walsh are among players who have amassed the most back-to-back minutes going into Saturday’s UEFA Women’s Champions League final between Barcelona and Olympique Lyonnais.

Workload data released by FIFPRO and Football Benchmark shows that Bonmati and Walsh, along with team-mates Lucy Bronze and Caroline Graham Hansen, are among the Barcelona players who have endured high workload, with each playing over 40 competitive matches since the beginning of the 2023/24 season.

Lyon duo Kadidiatou Diani and Lindsey Horan have also played over 40 competitive matches going into the final.

Diani Lyon
Kadidiatou Diani in action for Lyon

It has been a gruelling season for elite-level women’s players with a lack of guaranteed rest periods in a congested match calendar.

Bonmati and Bronze, for instance, began their competitive 2023/24 campaign in Europe just 27 days after playing in the 2023 Women’s World Cup final in Australia. Once their respective pre-seasons are taken into consideration, it means their off-season rest period was well below FIFPRO’s recommended 28 days.

"I feel the schedule is very tight," said Bonmati, speaking to FIFPRO in January 2024. "I think that with a calendar at the level of each country, which controls their league a little bit because, for example, in ours for me [the season] is too long, I think it would help a lot."

Is player recovery being prioritised in current women’s match calendar?

FIFA recently announced a new international calendar for women's football for 2026-2029. Whilst positive changes have been made, there will still be schedule pressure on high-usage international players, and regulated safeguards for in-season and off-season breaks have not been included.

Spain’s Liga F and France’s Division 1 Feminine, for instance, kicked off their respective 2023/24 campaigns on 15-16 September – less than 28 days after the Women’s World Cup final in Australia.

It left players little time to recover physically and mentally from an intense tournament such as the World Cup. Players, naturally, are concerned that such a congested scheduled with few rest periods can lead to injury.

"If you look at the amount of injuries that have happened in women’s football, I think it’s no accident," said Walsh, speaking to FIFPRO in January 2024. "I think it’s the amount of games and how little rest players are having."

With Spain’s Liga F campaign lasting until mid-June, coupled with England’s UEFA Women’s EURO qualifiers in mid-July, it means players like Walsh will be afforded little rest and recovery after being thrown into a club campaign not long after a demanding World Cup.

"The World Cup was probably the most intense tournament I've played at," said Walsh. "People speak about [recovery] physically, but mentally as well you need the rest."

Walsh continued: "Player workload is getting a lot more. Sometimes as female players, we don't get the same support that the male players do in terms of facilities, and I'm very lucky I’ve had that support in the clubs that I've played at.

"Some other players aren’t, and I think we need to feel that support, and we also need to listen to how many games [are being played] and whether it is a positive step for us.

"It's difficult because you want to be playing in those games, but at the same time, we want to know that you're going on the pitch in good shape, and that you're going to be coming off the pitch healthy too."