Winter breaks in football - when are Barcelona, Real Madrid and rest of Europe taking off?

Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid

The winter months are a notoriously busy period for football in England, with the festive period in particular serving up a veritable blizzard of matches.

It can be a difficult time for managers, especially if they do not have large squads of players to rotate, with a series of games in quick succession inevitably taking its toll on players' bodies.

The issue of fixture congestion has led to discussions in England between leagues and the Football Association regarding the introduction of a winter break, while figures such as David Moyes have endorsed the idea.

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However, it is a different story in Europe's other leagues, who already opt to take a breather during that time. The duration of the Winter hiatus varies from country to country, with some lasting nearly a month.

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Goal brings you all you need to know about the winter breaks in Europe's top leagues.


CountryBreak startsBreak endsDuration
GermanyDec. 20Jan. 1222 days
FranceDec. 20Jan. 616 days
ItalyJan. 6Jan. 2114 days
SpainDec. 23Jan. 311 days

As you can see from the table above, German teams have the longest winter break out of the top European leagues at 22 days in duration.

The Germans are followed by their neighbours France, where the winter break lasts at least 16 days.

The winter break in Italy comes next at 14 days in duration and it is also notably the latest break period, concluding at the end of January.

Spain has the shortest winter break, going just 11 days without football - an amazing 50 per cent shorter than Germany.


Lionel Messi Barcelona

In Spain, the winter break begins on December 23, 2017 following the last Liga matchday of the year and ends on January 3, 2018, when the first legs of the Copa del Rey last 16 games kick off.

That is a stretch of at least 10 days without football and, for Barcelona and Real Madrid, who return to action on January 4, it will be 11 days.

The dating of the break allows players to enjoy both Christmas and the new year. Liga action resumes on January 6.


Thomas Muller Bayern 2017

In Germany, the last Bundesliga matchday of the year is December 17, but the winter break officially begins on December 20 after the completion of the DFB Pokal third-round matches (which includes a Klassiker clash between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund).

The break lasts until January 12, 2018, when Bundesliga action resumes, meaning there is a span of 22 days without football for Bayern, Dortmund et al.


Gianluigi Buffon Italy Sweden

Italy's winter break does not begin until January so December is a relatively busy month compared to that of their counterparts in Spain and Germany.

However, unlike in England, there are no games on the day after Christmas or on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.

The Italian winter break commences on January 6, 2018 after the conclusion of that day's Serie A action and it ends on January 21, when the league resumes. That is 14 days without football.

Juventus return to action on January 22, meaning that the break lasts 15 days for the reigning champions.


Neymar Dani Alves PSG

Neymar and Paris Saint-Germain will have a lengthy winter break and, unlike their counterparts in Italy and England, they are able to fully enjoy both Christmas and the new year.

The French winter break begins on December 20 after the last Ligue 1 matchday of 2017 and there is no football scheduled until January 6, 2018, when the Coupe de France round of 64 takes place.

That means there are at least 16 days without football in France and, even better for PSG, it is 17 days, as they return to action on January 7.

Ligue 1 games return the following weekend on January 13.

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