Ah, the international break. It’s a time that so many Liverpool fans dread. Gone is the momentum built, and up goes the inevitable chance of injury to a key player. The international breaks have gotten even more nerve-wracking over the past couple of years as national teams look to regularly cram in a third game during a two week window.
With Liverpool competing on so many fronts, there is never a good time for an international break. For this iteration, however, there are a slew of games that really matter towards Liverpool players and their national teams qualifying for the world cup <checks calendar> next winter. Whether you are interested in the results, or you just want to stick your head in the sand until it’s over, we’re going to give you the rundown on the matches either way.
All To Play For
Quite a few Liverpool players and their national teams still have work to do to qualify. Sadio Mané and his Senegal side will face Mohamed Salah and Egypt in a rematch of the African Cup of National final that happened just a couple of months ago won on penalties by Mané . The winner of the two-legged tie will qualify for the world cup. The loser will get a nice break next winner (and probably be really sad about not qualifying). They will play in Egypt on Friday, March 25 followed by the return leg in Senegal on Tuesday, March 29.
In Asian qualifying, Takumi Minamino need to be one of the top two teams in their group to ensure qualification. They currently sit in second in Group B, one point behind Saudi Arabia, and three points ahead of Australia. Minamino and Co will travel to face Australia in a huge match on Thursday, March 24, followed by a home match against last-place Vietnam on Tuesday, March 29. Should Japan finish third in the group, they will have a playoff with the third place finisher from Group A.
In South America, Luis Diaz and Colombia have some work to do to finish in the top four of the CONMEBOL standings. They currently sit in seventh on the standings with two games left to play. They are five points behind Uruguay in the fourth spot. Colombia will face eigth-place Bolivia at home on March 24 before heading to last-place Venezuela on March 29. If Colombia manage to finish in fifth, they would have a playoff with a team from another federation.
Back in Europe, both Diogo Jota and Portugal and Neco Williams and Wales are in an odd playoff after the group stages. Both teams will have a “semifinal” match, and should they win, they would advance to a “final” to determine the last three qualifiers from Europe. Jota and Portugal will face Turkey on Tuesday, March 24. Should they win, they will advance to take on the winner of Italy and North Macedonia. Williams and Wales take on Austria on the 24th, and will have to face the winner of Scotland and Ukraine, which is currently postponed until June due to A FREAKING WAR.
Please Don’t Get Hurt, These Games Don’t Even Matter
We’ll start with Brazil, which has a couple of matches that sort of kind of matter. Fabinho and Alisson have been called in to take on Chile (3/24) and Bolivia (3/29). Brazil is currently in first place with three games left to play in qualification. They are 18 points ahead of 5th place Peru, who only have two games left. While they have mathematically clinched, Brazil could technically get eliminated for something or other I guess, but we’re calling these basically friendly matches for all intents and purposes.
The rest of the bunch are true friendlies. Kostas Tsimikas and Greece will take on Romania on March 25 before heading to Montenegro on March 28.
Youngster Conor Bradley has been called in for Northern Ireland as they take on Luxembourg on the 25th, and will follow that up by hosting Hungary on the 29th.
Divock Origi and Caoimhin Kelleher are set to face each other on March 26 as Ireland hosts Belgium. Belgium will then host Burkina Faso on the 29th, while Ireland will face Lithuania on the same day.
Jordan Henderson and England take on Switzerland at home on the 26th before hosting the Ivory Coast on the 29th. Virgil van Dijk and the Netherlands will host Denmark and Germany on the 26th and 29th as well.
With Scotland’s qualifying match postponed, Andy Robertson and Co have had a friendly added against Poland on March 24. Poland was supposed to play Russia in a semifinal, but the Russians have been kicked out of the World Cup by FIFA because reasons.
Well there you have it. There are several matches that really matter, and a bunch that we all will just hope for the best that no one gets injured in a friendly.