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Liverpool Stars in International Action with Egypt and Netherlands

Mohamed Salah, Virgil van Dijk, and Cody Cakpo were all playing competitive football this week because the players don’t ever need time off, apparently.

Holland v Croatia -UEFA Nations league Photo by Rico Brouwer/Soccrates/Getty Images

Even in a summer without a World Cup, Euros, or Copa America the football doesn’t stop because satisfying the greed to the game’s already rich and powerful stakeholders is more important than giving the already over-strained players even a minute off.

So we find ourselves less than a month from the end of a hectic, compressed 2022-23 season—thanks in part by the need to hold the World Cup during the winter in Qatar for reasons all those involved would insist doesn’t have anything to do with lining their pockets—with international fixtures to talk about.

First up, Virgil van Dijk and Cody Gakpo were on duty yesterday with Netherlands in the Nations League semi-final. Why Europe needed another international competition—beyond more money for UEFA’s various stakeholders—to stack on top of the Euros and a full slate of qualifiers is anybody’s guess, but it exists.

And in it, Croatia won 4-2 in a match that stretched to 120 minutes, sending the host Dutch packing at the penultimate hurdle and setting up a Sunday final that will see the nation of fewer than four million take on the winner of today’s Spain vs. Italy match.

Van Dijk, Gakpo, and the Dutch don’t get to take any time off, though. Because they’ve got a third-place match against the loser of today’s game between Spain and Italy to look forward to on Sunday. Because of course they do. And UEFA would probably tell you with a straight face that all of this extra football isn’t detrimental to the players.

Meanwhile, Mohamed Salah was also in action this week, with the forward who celebrates his 31st birthday today not given much of a summer break because there are Africa Cup of Nations—now apparently shifted back to January by default and played every two years—qualifiers to worry about.

In that game, Egypt beat ex-Red Naby Keïta and Guinea 2-1 with Salah recording an assist. Egypt have played five of six qualifiers and are assured a place at January’s tournament, but in addition to the final qualifier set for the September international break, they have a friendly to play against South Sudan on Sunday for reasons.

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