Monday, February 7, 2011

Does Anyone Really Care About International Friendlies?

After another week of outstanding European club football, one could be forgiven for not salivating over this week's serving, a host of midweek international friendlies. While at first glance matches such as France vs Brazil, Germany vs Italy and Argentina vs Portugal look appealing, a second and more thorough look tells the truth. How much intensity can we expect to be produced by a group of players who will, doubtless, have their eyes fixed on the return of the Champions League next week? And can we blame the likes of Germany's Mesut Ozil, Portugal's Nani and France's Florent Malouda for what will surely be a collection of reserved, careful performances on Wednesday? Why should any player even have to consider the risk of getting injured in a friendly when crucial club matches wait, just around the corner? Already the England squad has been hit by a plethora of withdrawals due to so called "injuries" and more can be expected in the coming days. The truth of it is that players just don't care about their country enough any more, to risk a serious injury in a friendly match. This stance from players must hardly be improved by managers who, having seen the likes of Arjen Robben, Robin Van Persie and Fernando Torres pick up injuries while on international duty, are in the habit of encouraging players with the slightest twinge to withdraw.  Just this week, Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson echoed the feelings of many European coaches, calling the presence of midweek friendlies in the schedule "crazy."Crazy is certainly the operative word when discussing International friendlies, especially midweek ones, and you can certainly expect somewhat stronger language from Ferguson if one of United's players gets injured the week before the derby.

From a fan's point of view International game weeks are much like a McDonald's Big Mac for breakfast, after a night of fine dining in Paris. In other words, they are a drop down in quality from the football witnessed weekly in the top leagues of Europe. Just think, after watching Newcastle's stunning second half fightback against Arsenal, English fans will find themselves viewing a mediocre English national team visit an even more mediocre Denmark. Meanwhile, Italians who were left captivated by the eight goal thriller shared by AS Roma and Inter Milan on Sunday night, will be left watching their national XI slug their way through what is surely bound to be a stodgy 90 minutes of reserved tackling, and even more reserved attacking, against Germany. Lets just hope that another tedious day of international football doesn't end with someone pulling a hamstring.

Should FIFA disband international friendlies?

Do the players care about friendlies?

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