After three straight months including international duty, football fans, gaffers and physios will be happy the final spell of the year is over.
This month saw 30 reds travel back to their own countries to compete in the UEFA Nations League, African Cup of Nations qualifying and international friendlies while 19 of them were chosen for the senior team of their respective nations.
Joe Gomez, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Jordan Henderson were the trio of reds, chosen as part of the England squad to face the United States and Croatia. All three of our lads had a role in England’s double win, but one of them stole the show by scoring his first international goal.
Trent scored a screamer in a 3-0 victory against USA in the 27th minute after some dodgy defending by the visitors. USA made a mess of clearing their lines and the West Derby lad took advantage and smacked the ball low into the corner beyond Brad Guzan to give the Three Lions the lead in Wayne Rooney’s (pointless) testimonial.
Hendo, however, picked up the only dreaded ‘international duty injury’ after only very recently returning to full fitness. He picked up yet another hamstring injury on the pitch in the home clash against USA, he has since returned to Merseyside for treatment.
It’s safe to say Joe Gomez made an impact while on international duty – it was his long throw into the box that led to Jesse Lingard’s eventual tap-in to equalise in the UEFA Nations League tie against Croatia – throw-in coach Thomas Gronnemark would be proud.
Dominic Solanke played for England’s under 21’s, and it’s safe to say he did us proud! He scored four goals in two games, including a cheeky back heel chip from inside the 18-yard box against Denmark’s youth.
Dejan Lovren jetted back to Croatia and started both international games against England and Spain. He was pretty much non-existent for both of the games, except for a yellow card in the 98th minute of their 2-1 loss against the three lions.
Brazil manager Tite took Alisson, Fabinho and Roberto Firmino for their clashes with Uruguay and Cameroon. Alisson and Firmino both had starts in the games, while Fabinho was relegated to the bench.
Alisson kept a clean sheet in Brazil’s tie against Uruguay, even with the Uruguayans having a total of four of their nine shots on target, and also had little to do as they took-on Cameroon, randomly at Stadium MK (what?).
Firmino was denied a brilliant attempt on goal in his team’s clash against the Africans, after Andre Onana brilliantly denied him from close range.
Both Virgil van Dijk and Gini Wijnaldum turned out for the Netherlands against France and Germany, and scored. Captain Virg scored his third international goal for his country against the side that bore the brunt of his second, Germany, while Gini scored a goal in the 44th minute of their game against France.
Xherdan Shaqiri was called up for the Switzerland squad in their games against Qatar and Belgium. The creative midfielder played both games and had two assists as his team came from 2-0 down to beat Belgium 5-2. During this match, Simon Mignolet probably waved from the bench, where he always is (bless him).
Andrew Robertson captained Scotland through their two wins against Albania and Israel, securing their promotion from League C, Group 1 of the Nations League. Another armband wearer, Naby Keita was part of Guineas 1-1 qualifying draw with Ivory Coast on Sunday.
As always, the Egyptian king, Mohamed Salah made an appearance in Egypt’s only game against Tunisia. He scored an 90th minute goal in the Africa Cup of Nations meaning he has netted eight times in his last 10 games.
An incident including Sadio Mané while on duty in Senegal saw him leaving the pitch in tears after being constantly booed by his own fans for missing a shot during their qualifying game against Equatorial Guinea. Poor Sadio!! Retire from international duty, lad, we’ll never boo you x
The next lot of international fixtures that affect LFC will be between 18-26 March 2019, as the African Cup of Nations was moved from its usual January slot to summer so it didn’t affect any club fixtures.