Liverpool have been busy playing two games a week nearly every week from the end of November onwards, and with their overloaded club schedule it has been easy to forget that when the time comes for that load to lighten, part of the reason it will will be the return of international action.
And that first international break of the new year is coming up soon, with players set to head off at the end of the month and the first teams already being named. Top of that list are Brazil, who have named their full squad for their World Cup qualifiers on March 26th against Uruguay and March 30th against Paraguay.
For Liverpool’s Brazilian contenders, the news is mixed, as Philippe Coutinho has been called back into the fold by manager Dunga but Roberto Firmino—despite leading Liverpool’s scoring charts with seven goals and seven assists this year—has again been given the cold shoulder. Both missed out last time around.
As in the past, Dunga has shown a clear preference for veterans he already knows and for players based in Brazil, rounding out the squad with the likes of Kaka and Santos attackers Ricardo Oliveira and Lucas Lima instead of extending an invite to Firmino, who has every right to feel hard done by for his exclusion.
Liverpool’s January transfer target Alex Teixeira, perhaps unsurprisingly and in spite of his good form with Shakhtar Donetsk before he was sold to Jiangsu Suning for £38M, has also not received a call-up. Beijing Guoan’s Renato Augusto and Shandong Luneng defender Carlos Silva were able to make the cut.
The other players from the Premier League who called up this time around are Chelsea duo Oscar and Willian, and Manchester City midfielder Fernandinho.