Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney, Xavi, Robin van Persie and Bastian Schweinsteiger are just five prominent footballers who will be absent in Wednesday’s international friendlies.
Coaches have either rested some stars or are hit by illness and injury waves at a date which is often controversial because of the gruelling schedule for European top clubs at this time of the year. “The discussion about the November date takes place every year,” said German team general manager Oliver Bierhoff of the date sandwiched between league action and the deciding stages of the group phase in the continental events.
Germany coach Joachim Loew has been hit especially hard ahead of a prestigious date at old foe the Netherlands.
Sami Khedira, Holger Badstuber and Mario Gomez were sidelined ahead of the nomination, but Loew then had to swallow the withdrawal of Schweinsteiger, Toni Kroos, Jerome Boateng, Marcel Schmelzer, Mesut Oezil and Miroslav Klose on Sunday and Monday as well. The Sueddeutsche Zeitung said on Tuesday that this lineup only lacked a right-back (and a goalkeeper) to form a strong team, but also said that “the abundance of talent could still allow Loew to field a team with good names.”
Bierhoff said that “we have enough faith in the players and clubs” to believe the injuries and illnesses are genuine.
Whether it is consolation or not for Loew and his team, Dutch coach Louis van Gaal also has various no-shows to swallow, ranging from forward van Persie to midfielder Wesley Snijder and first-choice goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg.
Dutch paper de Volkskrant spoke of a match between “Netherlands B and Germany C” on its website and quoted midfielder Rafael van der Vaart as saying that this was just the nature of the date.
“Of course a few big names are missing. But it happens at this time of the season. As far as I am concerned two good teams will be on the pitch on Wednesday,” van der Vaart said.
Elsewhere, England manager Roy Hodgson lost Rooney, Theo Walcott, Jonjo Shelvey, Kyle Walker and Aaron Lennon on the weekend for the trip to Sweden on top of the likes of Ashley Cole, Jermain Defoe and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who are not fit to play.
Portugal travels to Gabon without its superstar Ronaldo after he sustained a cut above his left eye, while his Real Madrid attacking partner Karim Benzema is sidelined for France’s trip to Italy along with Gael Clichy. The Italian hosts have Daniele de Rossi absent after a red card on the weekend, as coach Cesare Prandelli continues to impose a strict rule that only players who behave themselves on the pitch are invited to national team.
Spain coach Vicente del Bosque, meanwhile, rested a few stars right from the outset, sparing them a long trip to Panama. Xavi, Xabi Alonso, Jose Reina, Alvaro Arbeloa and Fernando Torres were allowed to stay at home while David Silva, Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique are injured. Spanish football supremo Angel Villar has been criticised for playing yet another match across the ocean, but he refers to the income of €3 million which is used to benefit football in Spain.