Club vs country has become such a big factor at many international games over the last few years competitive or not. There are always so many complaints from club managers blaming their players call up for the national team as a scapegoat for subsequent poor league results. And having spent the last few days watching Copa America games I fear there are underlying elements at work that may rear their ugly head at Euro 2016.
I have just finished watching the first week of Copa America and so far except for the Colombia vs Paraguay game it has been very disappointing. There is a major factor at play here and it centres on the club vs country debate. Neymar ‘refused’ to play for Brazil at the tournament and Dunga the Brazil manager had no idea when asked where his superstar player was…..he was by the way actually watching the games up in the stands. And what of Messi? Apparently he is not fully fit so he has also been watching the games, this time from the subs bench. The case of the third of the three Barcelona musketeers, Suarez is even more shocking and you may have seen his latest rant already via some media source. I believe Suarez’s case will lead to the sacking of Uruguay’s manager before I even finish writing this article, so I won’t even google his name.
Suarez one of the best strikers in the world was left out of Uruguay’s first match and they lost to Mexico. In yesterday’s second must win match against the much unfancied Venezuela he was left on the subs bench again. Venezuela then scored a spectacular goal, which had it not hit the cross bar first and then get knocked in on the rebound would have rivaled the Beckham, Rooney, Charlie Adam kind of goal, so I think you know how it was by now. So losing 1-0 with not long to go, Suarez naturally thinking surely he will get a look in soon, starting warming up on the touchline. As by far the best player in Uruguay why wouldn’t he think that. After the over-rated Cavani missed a virtual open goal and other chances the change was surely coming soon. Then the unthinkable! All three of Uruguay’s subs were deployed and Suarez was not one of them. Suarez lost it and for once with justification. He angrily beat the plastic protection in the direction of the soon to be ex-Uruguay manager. He ripped off his pink bib and threw it down like any 7 year old girl may do after being told she can’t go out to play! That was it, Uruguay lost 1-0 and they were out. Suarez was furious and later we and he found out that he wasn’t even included in the squad for the game….something he didn’t realise as he very capably warmed up on the touchline.
This all sounds very suspicious none of the three best players in the world played. So back to the Euro’s will we see the same kind of suspicious going-ons in France starting later today. Will be able to see the best Europe has to offer or will we be deprived because club has now become more important than country. Why did Ronaldo not play against England in last weeks friendly and then a couple of days later play in the ‘soft’ friendly against Estonia which was won 7-0. Already talks of Ronaldo not starting in his country’s first game are rife.
Tonight is the big kick off, but will France start with Pogba and Griezmann, two of their best players. Will Bale start for Wales tomorrow? I suppose we’re lucky in England we have no superstar player we need to rest. We can pretty much interchange any of them and the result will start come out disappointing whoever we play. Maybe it’s not the players then! Monday night is one of the most attractive games of the tournament, Belgium and Eden Hazard and Courtois against their new manager, Conte, currently manager of Italy. I hope they too will use all their best players.
Throughout the tournament I hope this common thread doesn’t deprive us in one of the most open tournaments for years, with Belgium, France, Germany and Spain all with a great chance of triumph. Or maybe a great player like Ibrahimovic will win it on his own for his country like Maradona or Ronaldo (fenomeno) have done in past World cups with an average team around them.
As I write I have just heard the breaking news that David De Gea has just been sent home from the Euros. Has he already signed for Real Madrid and so cannot take part or is it something even more sinister that only time will tell. In conclusion I hope that we don’t have Wenger, Mourinho, Guardiola et al sitting secretly in disguise in the stands on the hotline to the National team managers of the game in question, demanding their player gets taken off as he was aggressively tackled by an opposition defender. Let’s all hope for a Euro’s to remember with everyone going for the honour of representing their country and not another Copa out!