It’s that annoying time of the season once again... The international break is back. A statement that has never been said with even an ounce of enthusiasm.
We certainly are not alone in our laments this time around. Jürgen Klopp aptly called the Nations Cup the most senseless competition in the world earlier this week. The official description of the UEFA Nations League describes the tournament as a biennial international association football competition contested by 55 senior national men’s teams with the tournament largely replacing the international friendly matches on the FIFA international match calendar.
Gareth Southgate has summoned Jordan Henderson, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Joe Gomez for England’s Nations League clashes against Croatia on Friday, 12 October 2018, followed by Spain on 15 October 2018. Dejan Lovren will be available for the Croats on Friday and is likely to feature in the sides international friendly against Jordan on Monday evening.
Dominic Solanke is on duty for the England U21s and has already made his mark. The U21s were victorious against the tiny principality of Andorra in their European Championship qualifier on Thursday, after winning by 7 goals to nil with Solanke coming on as a second half substitute and scoring in the 81st minute at Chesterfield’s Proact Stadium in Derbyshire. The U21s play their second European Championship qualifier on Tuesday, 16 October against Scotland.
Meanwhile, Curtis Jones started for the England U18s and they certainly sent their Swiss counterparts packing as they battered the Swedes 4 – 0 at St. Georges Park while Rafael Camacho added 72 minutes of play time to his tally in a 1 – 1 draw between Portugal and Switzerland’s under-18s World Championship qualifying match on Thursday evening and Andy Robertson and Scotland suffered a 2 – 1 defeat in their Nations League clash against Israel in the North Israeli city of Haifa.
Curtis Jones and the U18 English side will play the Czech Republic on Monday while Andy Robertson’s Scotland play Portugal in a friendly match on Sunday. Virgil van Dijk and Georginio Wijnaldum will be in oranje as the Netherlands host Germany in the Nations League on Saturday and then travel to Belgium – Simon Mignolet has been called up - for a friendly match on Tuesday, 16 October 2018. Xherdan Shaqiri is on duty for Switzerland as they face Belgium on Friday and then travel to Iceland on Tuesday for their Nations League match.
Kamil Grabara is away with the Poland U21s for matches against Denmark and Georgia, while Rafael Camacho is with the Portugal U20s as they prepare to meet Switzerland and then Italy. Brazil’s Tite has flanked his country’s first team with not one but three Reds in Alisson, Fabinho and Roberto Firmino as his side are set to play friendlies with Saudi Arabia on October 12 and Argentina on October 16.
And finally, and most annoyingly of all, in the name of qualifying for the African Cup of Nations, we will see Naby Keita feature for Guinea when they take on Rwanda not once but twice in the two leg qualifiers. Meanwhile, Mohamed Salah will represent Egypt when they play Swaziland in their home and away fixtures and lastly but definitely not least, Senegal and our Sadio Mané also take on Sudan twice, in their AFCON qualifier matches.
And there you have it.
May this be an entirely uneventful break for everyone involved especially our AFCON boys and may everyone return fully fit and raring to go when the Premier League returns as Liverpool take on Huddersfield on Saturday, 20 October 2018 at 17H30PM BST.