International Impact: August Friendlies Set to Interfere with the Start of the Season

Gerrard looks about as happy about this FIFA date as I am. - Michael Regan

In news that should surprise nobody, FIFA is apparently run by people who have no concept of actually looking at a calendar.

Really, how hard is it to look at a calendar, FIFA? Who was it that had the grand idea to schedule an international friendly date three days before the start of the English Premier League? Whoever that person was should be flogged. But now we have this gigantic mess on our hands, and its impact on Liverpool's first match of the season to examine. There's a very real chance that a significant part of the roster will be effected by the matches, with two legs of international travel guaranteed at a minimum, with the ever-present chance of significant minutes just three days before a club match on top of it.

Just, ugh.

Anyways, let's look at who in the squad could be impacted, match-by-match:

  • Japan - Uruguay: Luis Suarez is sure to participate for Uruguay's match, with Sebastian Coates likely to at least make the bench despite his lack of pre-season participation due to the paper-thin state of Uruguay's center back depth. These two having to go all the way to Japan for this match doesn't help the matter at all.
  • Italy - Argentina: It's no guarantee that Fabio Borini gets the the call from Cesar Prandelli, but Italy's forward depth is a little lacking and he had a solid performance in the U21 Euros in June.
  • Poland - Denmark: Daniel Agger is a lock to captain the Danes again.
  • Belgium - France: Simon Mignolet should be in attendance, though likely as Thibaut Courtois' backup.
  • Wales - Ireland: This should mark Joe Allen's return to the Welsh national team after his injury. At least he won't have to go far.
  • England - Scotland: Another "at least they're close" match, but the potential impact is big. Steven Gerrard and Glen Johnson have been regular starters for Roy Hodgson, with Jordan Henderson seeing time on the bench. The chances of Daniel Sturridge being recalled despite only just being deemed healthy enough to train in full seems frighteningly high, because, well, Roy is Roy.
  • Swizerland - Brazil: The odds of this one impacting the squad are much lower, thankfully, but there is still a chance. Should Felipe Scolari decide to give most of his Confederations Cup squad a rest, Lucas and Philippe Coutinho could both get a call. Fortunately, that seems unlikely at the present time.
  • Romania - Slovakia: Martin Skrtel isn't a guarantee to even make it to this weekend still on Liverpool's books, but he is for now and is still a mainstay in Slovakia's defense.
That's ten players likely to be called up for their countries, with three more as possibilities of varying degrees. That'll be a lot of tired players come opening day.

Fortunately, Liverpool aren't the only ones who'll be impacted by this international date. Several key Stoke players could be involved as well. Left back Erik Pieters is a virtual lock for the Dutch in their match in Portugal, as is Marc Wilson for the Irish against Wales. Asmir Begovic is Bosnia-Herzegovina's unquestioned #1 in goal, and it's likely he'll be facing Jurgen Klinsmann's favorite defensive utility knife Geoff Cameron in the USA squad. The England/Scotland tilt will certainly see our dear old friend Charlie Adam feature for the Scots, while Ryan Shawcross could be called up for England. There's also an outside chance that Jack Butland is summoned to serve as a reserve 'keeper for the English.

As if the specter of facing Stoke right out of the gate wasn't unsettling enough, having to do it with them hacking away at already-exhausted players is even less so. Let's just pray for a healthy return for all of Liverpool's players. Hopefully we only have one more year of this crap, though I'd imagine FIFA will find a way to screw that up, too.
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