We have made it. We have made it through international break 2.0 – or rather international break 0.5: half the excitement of a thrilling 1-0 win away to Lithuania, half the usual starting 11 out with ‘niggles’, and half the will to live come full-time. As if putting the Premier League on hold for World Cup Qualifiers wasn’t soul-destroying enough, in the last week we’ve been treated to two goalless, dire games of football.
I didn’t think it was possible to watch both Germany and Brazil yet witness so little in terms of exciting football, but come to think of it, deep down I know I would have been shocked to watch England play twice and witness anything remotely interesting, so I guess I can’t be too surprised. I’m sure Germany and Brazil are partly responsible for producing such cripplingly dull football matches, however the other friendlies featuring the two nations produced 4 goals each, so I’m reluctant to tarnish them with the same brush.
In truth, there’s been a lot this week that’s annoyed me, with the uninspiring friendlies quite far down the list. With all 32 teams confirmed for the 2018 World Cup, I’ve stumbled across various tweets such as:
“I just can’t believe *enter under-performing team here* didn’t qualify!”
And who can forget:
“WOW – check it out – the starting 11 you can make from nations failing to qualify for the World Cup!”
Is it so surprising that Italy didn’t qualify? In a group with Spain, no-one can be that surprised that Italy ended up in the playoffs, and once in the playoffs a two-legged affair for a place on the planet’s most prestigious stage isn’t going to be walkover – regardless of the opponent. Similarly, with Holland, Sweden and France all in the same group, at least one high-profile side was going to miss out.
With regards to the latter tweet, there are so many great players nowadays playing for a whole range of nations, once again I find myself suitably unsurprised by the line up, not least because Edin Dzeko had made it onto the team sheet. Really? I mean, I’m as sad as the next person to hear the news that Buffon looks like he’s played his last World Cup, but don’t try and ‘wow’ me with news that the great Edin Dzeko will be missing out this summer. What next? Danny Higginbotham to miss out on Champions League football?