Many football fans dread international breaks. Watching people play friendlies with their country just doesn’t do it for people who want to see exciting club matches every weekend. Besides the lack of personal enjoyment and no fantasy premier league, are international breaks really necessary?
Advantages of International Break
Footballers do need time to train and practise with their countrymates. Being fit and sharpening your skills while playing for your club is great. However, there has to be sufficient time dedicated to developing team chemistry. Surely you’ve seen a team of individuals who are great in their club and when it’s time to represent their country they tend to fall short. Argentina’s national team may have come to mind, and maybe time apart is not the sole reason why they don’t work well together. However, it still supports the fact that team chemistry is paramount.
The international break gives the coaches of these international teams the opportunity to experiment. Coaches can rotate players and see where each player performs best within that specific team. The coaches are better able to see who they can leave out for official competitions or who they can’t afford to exclude. Even though team chemistry is important, so is the depth and quality of the squad. The World Cup Qualifying game may not be the best time for the coaching staff to learn important truths about the strengths and weaknesses of their team.
International breaks are when the World Cup qualifiers are primarily played. Summers are usually filled with vacation time, international competitions and then club friendlies as the start of the season approaches; there is no time in the summer for international football. Maybe the international competitions could be turned into qualifiers. Even then, when would they practise for these competitions? It seems brief periods of international breaks sprinkled throughout the season, is the best bet for the international teams.
Disadvantages of International Break
International breaks are dreaded for a reason. When you hear the term “international break”, you probably hear injuries. There is currently an international break going on and Nathan Ake of Manchester City has already gotten an injury. Ake is not alone, Liverpool’s Joe Gomez, will miss the rest of his international games for England for the rest of the month. It’s likely that many more players will emerge at the end of this period injured.
Jose Mourinho, Tottenham Hotspur manager, has definitely made it known that he doesn’t love international breaks. According to him, “I don’t think any player recharges in the national team. From the national team, I’m never expecting good things, I’m only expecting negative things.” He also went on to talk about the difference in the regime for national teams vs clubs. Mourinho mentioned that the second day of recovery is important to players but he knows the clubs use that day for more work.
International breaks sometimes break a streak of good football for your club. Sometimes players return to their clubs, without injury but aren’t doing as well as they were doing before the break. Players often lose their rhythm and can be frustrating to watch. It’s understandable since they’re expected to play differently and so readjustment is necessary.
International Break During COVID-19
Having an international break during a pandemic definitely poses another set of problems. Not only do players have to worry about injury, they have to worry about contracting COVID-19. It’s true that the virus doesn’t have a particularly high death rate but some people can be in hospital for months and have lasting effects afterwards. COVID-19 has definitely impacted the football community thus far. Players like Cristiano Ronaldo, Mo Salah, Casemiro, Eden Hazard, Sadio Mané and Callum Hudson-Odoi have all previously contracted the virus. Playing club matches already introduces some risk but travelling to play international matches introduces an even higher risk.
International breaks, while annoying, appear to be necessary. Football fans have three options. The first thing we could do is hope and pray that injuries won’t affect their clubs after the break. Secondly, we could watch the international matches, they’re not all terrible. Finally, we could find a hobby besides football so weekends without it aren’t quite as painful.