The 2019-20 season will go down in football history as one of the strangest. The title will be won by the players as always, but the physios who prepared them for the 11 games in 39 days in soaring temperatures will have played a bigger part than ever.
The 47-year-old fitness guru – known in the game as the ‘Scientist’ for his commitment to, and willingness to use, the latest sports science investigation – knows a thing or two about successfully preparing a group of players for such a tournament: he was France‘s physio in Russia two years ago as they lifted the World Cup.
Real Madrid are back in full training this week, under the watchful eye of Gregory Dupont
When LaLiga returns, Real Madrid will be trying to leapfrog Barcelona to win the Spanish title
‘I trust the science and I try to put it into practice in sport,’ he says of his methods. ‘Fifteen years ago there was not that knitting together of the two fields.’
A modest player in the Belgian leagues before dedicating himself to preparing players, Dupont’s single biggest challenge is to get the best out of Eden Hazard.
The former Chelsea forward might well be the difference between Real Madrid eliminating Barcelona’s two-point lead over them, and winning the league. He knows Hazard well from his time as Lille physio where both men first caught they eye for being exceptional at what they did.
Dupont was signed by Real Madrid at the start of this season in a bid to make the team better physically. Zinedine Zidane had returned to the club but did not want his previous physio Antonio Pintus working with him into the new campaign.
Dupont is the man tasked with keeping the players fit as they play 11 matches in 39 days
Dupont was France’s physio for their 2018 World Cup win and Zinedine Zidane brought him in
Pintus had prepared the players during three straight Champions League successes but Zidane had not liked the fact that when he left the club in 2018 Pintus was the only member of his staff who did not leave with him.
Pintus stayed at Madrid but was given a less important role by incoming Julen Lopetegui who came in with his own fitness coaches from the Spain team. Pintus might have been given the reins once more when Zidane returned but instead he turned to Dupont.
Zidane wanted a more physically powerful Madrid – that much was clear with his signing of Ferland Mendy to eventually replace Marcelo and the fast-tracking of midfield beast Fede Valverde.
The club were also very keen to reduce the injury list that had weakened the squad during the 2018-19 campaign. France had picked up no injuries in Russia and been one of the fittest sides at the World Cup.
Dupont looks at his stopwatch as Real Madrid’s players warm up for a Champions League tie
He has been tasked with…