It’s the October international break. In an ideal world, it would be a chance for Liverpool’s key players to take a breath after a frantic, high-intensity month of football and for manager Jürgen Klopp to focus with them on the challenges ahead.
But it’s not an ideal world, and most of Klopp’s key players are going to be out kicking the ball for their countries in games that don’t really matter but that UEFA would like you to think matter because they’ve slapped a new format and name on.
“Now unfortunately the boys go away again and play the Nations Cup, which is the most senseless competition in the world,” Klopp said when asked about an international break that, for most of his players, will mean more football.
In the past, the autumn after a World Cup or Euros would mainly be filled with friendlies, meaningless games that would allow national team managers to tinker with their lineups and rest top players. Now, it’s the Nations League.
An additional path to Euro qualification—in addition to the qualification tournament that kicks off in March of 2019—and a way to give meaning to, and earn money from, a slate of games that in the past wouldn’t have much mattered to anybody.
“Somebody asked me, ‘Is the level of the game because of the intensity?’” Klopp added. “Already in the question there is criticism—it could have been better if you were fresher. If you want fresher, give them a break.
“But that’s how it is. That’s why I say, going away is not a big problem, but you call a manager of any country and ask him to leave out one or two players and he says, ‘I am under pressure as well,’ because now it’s the Nations Cup.
“I don’t exactly know what you can win, but there is some final next summer or something so that’s it.”