Everything's the Worst: International Frenzy Edition

Jamie McDonald

Wondering when everything will end, ETW is hanging around that dimly lit street corner you know to sell you some words at a competitive price.

The international break has been an accursed intrusion for many years and it is something that we are now accustomed to. There's much to be said without going in to the current surprises, big victories, and clashes that are taking place across the globe. International football can be exciting but often there isn't that edge in qualifiers until games start running out. Urgency will always drive humankind in ways that comfort cannot.

International football has always had a strange relationship with ETW over the years and right now, we're at a good place. It's not that good but it's good enough. I can accept that Sepp Blatter will be part of the deal and even when international football breaks away from his influence, somebody else will step in to take his place. Not ideal but that's the deal.

What about Liverpool? Most fans will put their national teams second to Liverpool but ETW doesn't see it as a hierarchical relationship. Just as there is day and night, there is the club scene and the international arena. There is an overlap with players being involved in both spheres yet there's often a clash with clubs and fans.

Who has the might and which side is right? Should national associations be respected in their endeavours to represent their respective flags with all the distinction and competitive zeal possible? A national pool of players can be boosted by naturalisation and whatnot yet the number of players pulling up through injury can be disheartening. This isn't about patriotism or nationalism but the honours available on the international stage touch footballing immortality.

Domestic and continental club competition also offers players a possibility of engraving their own names in the footballing pantheon of victors. It also pays the bills so there's that too. A mortgage on a mansion in the country? Not cheap. Just ask one of your favourite footballing idols. Of course, the clubs pay the players so the players can play the game, enjoy their fame, and make their names.

Being part of great international sides can be a fitting way for a player to make his name or at least further his reputation in the global game. Sometimes, success at international level is used as a barometer with which to measure the very best around. There has been some debate on TLO comment sections about how good Luis Suarez is and where he ranks among the very best players.

ETW won't throw any malformed pennies into that ring but El Pistolero has proved his quality with Uruguay at international level. His record of 38 goals in 71 matches with Uruguay might make a case for him but a successful World Cup and Copa America strengthen his reputation. Whether this is enough, combined with his exploits at club level, to be considered a top ten global forward is not important here. Suarez is a top player who has shown his worth at a variety of levels.

Lionel Messi is currently acknowledged as the best around and his statistical output for Barcelona is monstrous. Now that is beastly. His performances, goals, incredulous moments on the pitch, consistency, dribbling ability, courage, technique, vision, touch, intelligence, teamwork, and more makes him one of the greatest to have ever played the game. Yet the expectations placed on his shoulders at international level are heavy. For some, he must do what Maradona did for Argentina in 1986 or forever have a cloud over his own entry into the tired G.O.A.T debate. Baaaa and wool indeed.

Seeing how players, managers, and teams get on at international level can be a treat. Yes, even in qualifiers. There are international sides that one adopts after being impressed with a particular style of play. The Czech Republic side with the mighty Pavel Nedved are one such example. At times it can be the fight shown by a group of players who display positive traits of a nation of people. International rivalries, within the boundaries of the field, provide a sharper and spicier taste for a discerning football fan.

So what is it that makes international football interesting? It probably isn't the endless club versus country prattling that adorns many newspapers. It might be that adopted nation or that player you love to follow or it could just be the offering of more and more football. Perhaps you just can't get enough.

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