Why Liverpool Need To Embrace International Football

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Relationship with International Football

A lot of football supporters have a really weird relationship with international football. Many will tell you that they have no interest in it whatsoever, before giving you a blow-by-blow account of why England’s narrow win over Malta and draw in North Macedonia were deathly dull.

We’ll then get onto why Gareth Southgate needs to a) unleash the bounty of glorious attacking options at his disposal; b) stop picking players who are in poor club form or playing in low quality leagues – hiya Jordan – and; c) go.

Before you know what’s happening, you’re being told why Team X (Turkey?) will be dark horses to win Euro 2024. “Couldn’t care less about it all though, mate.” Clearly.

International Football: A Global Perspective

The mention of the shindig in Germany next summer raises two other pertinent points. The examples above are clearly based in England, a nation for whom qualification is generally a mere formality these days. Do you think fans in Albania are down on international football when they have reached a major tournament for just the second time in their history? Of course not. Every successful qualification match for them is to be savoured, not endured.

And then there’s the actual tournaments themselves. Football addicts get to gorge themselves on three or four matches a day during the Group Stage, the soccer equivalent of Christmas day lasting for two weeks or so. Pass the Celebrations, love, Romania against Slovakia is about to kick off.

There’ll be a day next summer when your social media feed catches fire with everybody talking about an amazing match, a remarkable comeback or perhaps an unexpected failure by one of the giants. It happens every other year without fail.

People say they hate international football but it maybe it’s more accurate to say they hate it when it interferes with the regular club season. Who can possibly stomach a two week break from discovering which questionably funded petro-state sportswashing outfit is going to win the big trophies this season, eh?

Impact of International Breaks on Club Football

The stop-start nature of the early weeks of the season is often frustrating, but if it were just the November break then club fans likely wouldn’t mind so much. With almost exactly a third of the season done, it feels like a reasonable time to pause, take stock and prepare for the run into the festive period and the ever-lowering standard of matches which playing every other day inevitably brings around Christmas.

Liverpool have also just demonstrated the other benefit of football between countries at this time of year. How? By having the greatest international break the world has ever seen.

Okay, that may not be true and is impossible to easily prove. A lot of websites will carry a player’s data for club and country but not always on the same page. You can’t search FBRef for ‘international goals and assists in November 2023 by Liverpool players,” more’s the pity.

But you can look it up manually and when you do it really hits home what a fantastic fortnight it has been for Jürgen Klopp’s squad. With a sum total playing time of 2,320 minutes – roughly 2.3 full matches for a team of 11 players, when they haven’t received questionable red cards – representatives from the Reds have scored 15 goals and delivered three assists.

Liverpool Players’ International Accolades

This is a very basic way of measuring success, of course. Jarell Quansah made his first start for England under-21s, and despite a fantastic run and shot leading to an easy save, the very fact he was playing for the reigning European champions so early into his senior career is a fine achievement.

Then there’s Trent Alexander-Arnold, who started consecutive England matches for only the third time and got further experience playing in midfield. Leaving aside the relatively poor standard of opposition, the matches still help with his growth as a footballer.

But its inevitably goals and assists which capture the imagination. The Three Ds – Dominik, Diogo and Doak – all set up goals for countrymen, with the Hungary captain also ‘assisting’ an own goal before scoring twice in two minutes against Montenegro. That’s worth a shot of Pálinka, wouldn’t you say?

Liverpool’s International Break: A Closer Look

Szoboszlai wasn’t the only Red to register a trio of international goal involvements in the last week or so either. Harvey Elliott scored three goals (earning bonus points for bagging a brace at Goodison Park), as did Darwin Núñez. Mohamed Salah did what he usually does too, by outshining his colleagues by netting four times against Djibouti to join the likes of Romario on 55 international goals, just outside the top 50 scorers of all time.

With Luis Díaz scoring twice in front of his understandably emotional father and Cody Gakpo grabbing a goal in a cameo against Gibraltar, eight Liverpool players scored or assisted in this break. Hell, if we count under-19 international football then we can add Calum Scanlon to the successful group too.

Point is, there’s two ways to take an international break. We shall see how Manchester City have dealt with it on Saturday, with Liverpool supporters assuming Pep Guardiola’s players have pulled out of representing their countries with non-existent injuries.

If that’s the case, will the rest have done them good? Perhaps. But seeing all five senior forwards scoring or assisting must be a boost for the Reds, especially as other members of the squad made goal contributions or achieved their qualification goals. It might just be time for Liverpool to embrace international football.

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1 COMMENT

  1. I have absolutely no interest whatsoever in England and just hope that if any Liverpool players are involved that they are uninjured and play OK. As for international football in general, I understand that South American players in particular take great pride in it, and the supporters are passionate, but it’s of incidental interest to me. The international breaks do not do anything positive for the Club apart from lift the spirits perhaps of victorious players (with the opposite for the losers). Th gaps in the calendar drag and spoil the season. You enjoy it if you wish.

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