Do well and don’t come back injured. That is the jist of the official fan’s prayer whenever their club’s stars go off on international break. The downside to your club being so freaking good at football, like for example, the Premier League-topping Liverpool FC, is that your players tend to stand out enough to be picked for these pesky international fixtures.
If you’re lucky, your team’s fans get to bask in the residual sunshine of your players shining on the global stage; while on the flip side, there’s definitely some statistical analysis out there to prove that a disproportionate percentage of injuries tend to occur during this small slice of the footballing calendar.
That being said, the Reds’ Dutch contingent seem to be surviving (touch all wooden things) and even thriving, with Liverpool center back Virgil Van Dijk and midfielder Gini Wijnaldum at the forefront of the Netherlands’ resurgence under Ronald Koeman.
After disappointingly failing to even qualify for the 2016 Euro finals, the Oranje sought to capitalize on the new energy around the national side by kicking off this qualifying campaign with a resounding 4-0 thrashing of Belarus.
Wijnaldum was the one to open the scoring on the night, lashing home into the top corner on 21 minutes following an assist from Lyon winger, Memphis Depay. Van Dijk also got in on the goal-scoring action in the 86th minute, getting his head on the end of a Depay corner to help the Liverpool duo bookend two goals by the ex-Man United player and complete the rout.
The Dutch take on Germany on Sunday in their next match while the Scouse will be hoping that their star pair make it back in one piece as Liverpool look to close out a barnstorming campaign.