While international breaks rarely benefit clubs, the one in March keeps players razor sharp as they head into the business end of the campaign.
Whether they’re coming up against some of the best teams in the world or simply battling it out with a team-mate for a place in the manager’s starting XI, players can’t take their foot off the gas and it’s why when they return to their clubs they’re still in tip-top condition.
April kicks off the final push this season as Liverpool challenge for the Premier League and the Champions League. With this in mind, we’ll guide you through the upcoming international matches, looking at the big potential talking points for Liverpool players.
Van Dijk’s goalscoring groove
Virgil van Dijk’s discovered his scoring boots for Liverpool over recent weeks with three goals in four matches for the Reds. He nearly got onto the scoresheet again against Fulham but Sergio Rico managed to palm his powerful effort away.
And heading into the International break, the Netherland captain will fancy his chances of making it three goals in three matches against Germany when the two rivals collide.
The defensive juggernaut scored a last-minute equaliser away from home against Die Mannschaft as the away side came from 2-0 down to salvage a draw. He netted the opener in Amsterdam when Ronald Koeman’s men ran out as 3-0 victors during the 2018/19 UEFA Nations League match.
The Euro 2020 qualifier, to be played again in Amsterdam, gives both sides the opportunity to lay down a marker in Group C. The two European powerhouses are the two favourites to battle it out for top spot with Estonia, Belarus and Northern Ireland making up the five-team group.
🇸🇳 How does Sadio’s recent purple patch compare with the hot streaks of some of our boss strikers from the past? pic.twitter.com/bz3F4Vb63K
— RedsBet (@Reds_Bet) March 19, 2019
Liverpool vs Man City for Brazil
Not only are these two sides battling out for the Premier League title, but players from both teams are also vying to be first choice for Brazil. This international break sees the Selecao take on Panama and the Czech Republic in two friendly matches to be played in Europe.
Tite has some big decisions to make heading into this double-header but perhaps the two biggest ones revolve around players from Liverpool and Manchester City.
Alisson has been Brazil’s No.1 but Ederson is pushing his compatriot for that jersey. Will the Brazil manager keep faith with the Liverpool man or is the former Benfica shot-stopper going to get the nod in these games?
Up the other end of the pitch, it’s Roberto Firmino battling Gabriel Jesus to be the starting striker. Tite preferred the City No.33 but in recent matches he’s looked to Firmino and Everton’s Richarlison to lead the line. The Liverpool striker may have the edge given he links up well with Philippe Coutinho, and the Reds could have a clean sweep victory in this battle against Man City.
Trent Alexander-Arnold robbed of chance to shine
England’s matches against the Czech Republic and Montenegro give Gareth Southgate the opportunity to experiment. Kieran Trippier’s injury should have made things easier for the manager of the Three Lions with starting Trent Alexander-Arnold at right wing-back but the 20-year-old has been ruled out with a back injury.
With Southgate seemingly preferring Kyle Walker at centre-back, the Liverpool right-back was expected to stake a claim to be part of England’s first choice team not only for these two matches but for the next decade.
Alexander-Arnold scored during England’s 3-0 win over the USA in November and has been in fine form. He grabbed a hat-trick of assists for Liverpool against Watford, kept Franck Ribery quiet during the 3-1 victory in Munich and played all 90 minutes of the 2-1 triumph over Fulham on Sunday which ensured Liverpool went claimed top spot during this break.
He won’t feature over the next week but Alexander-Arnold is expected to be a mainstay in the England defence in the years to come.
* odds subject to change