Could Cavani’s injury explain his dip in form for Napoli?

The climax of the 2010/11 season was a relatively poor period for Edinson Cavani considering the previous two campaigns the Uruguayan enjoyed. Despite managing a decent record of six goals in his final ten Serie A games, Cavani failed to find the net in seven of those fixtures and four of those goals were penalties – a poor record by the 24-year-old’s standards. The Napoli striker’s frustration erupted in his side’s 2-1 defeat to relegation battlers Lecce when he was shown a second yellow card for sarcastically applauding the referee, and as a result he was banned for the Partenopei’s final two games and his dreams of becoming the Serie A’s top scorer were shot down.
El Matador’s poor run of form continued into the Copa America. The striker didn’t look his usual self in Uruguay’s opening fixture against Peru. He wasn’t as sharp or as quick as his teammates and his unusually poor first-touch scuppered several of the Celeste Olímpica’s attacks. Again he failed to get off the mark in Uruguay’s draw with Chile and was substituted at half-time after suffering a knee strain, which lead to him missing the Celeste’s historic victory over Argentina in the quarter-final, and the semi-final against Peru.
But what is the reason for the powerful striker’s sudden decline in form?
That question could be answered with a simple number – 93. That is how many games Edinson Cavani has played for club and country since August 2009 – two consecutive seasons of regular first-team football without a summer break. He has played 69 Serie A games, made five Coppa Italia appearances and featured ten times in the Europa League for Palermo and Napoli. For his country he made six appearances in the 2010 World Cup, an international friendly against the Republic of Ireland and his aforementioned participation in the Copa America. Taking into consideration that Cavani started 84 of those 93 games in the last 23 months without the luxury of a substantial rest, he can be forgiven for suffering a slight bout of exhaustion.
Following his knee injury in the game against Chile the Uruguay team doctor, Alberto Pan, has insisted Cavani rest in order to recover – advice the tall striker simply must take. A full recovery and a good rest are vital for Cavani and, indeed, Napoli. If Cavani doesn’t take time to allow his injury to heal and his batteries recharge, then he risks doing further damage to his knee and even the rest of his body, he could potentially miss a significant part of Napoli’s preseason preparations and, quite possibly, the beginning of the season, A good start to the new campaign is crucial for the Azzurri if they are to mount a serious challenge for the Scudetto and the Champions League, and this already difficult task will become all the more gruelling without the illustrious 24-year-old spearheading their attack.
With Napoli preparing to compete against Europe’s elite clubs in the continent’s most prestigious footballing competition, each player must be sharp and in tip-top condition from the beginning of the campaign to the end. His injury has handed him the opportunity to gain some well deserved and imperative downtime, however limited. Entering a third consecutive season without ample rest could have serious adverse effects on even the most finely tuned athletic machine and it would be a shame to see such a bright, talented, exciting and very hard working prospect’s progress and development interrupted (or even his career ended prematurely) because of exhaustion.

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