The international break has come and gone, and teams are now counting their blessings and losses. Many players and indeed some coaches normally see the international break when players get involved in another brand of football for their national teams as a time for rest.
The games are seen as less intensive than the type played in the leagues and continental competitions, and therefore not as draining as those. Coaches also use this opportunity to work on their strategies. They take breaks, and take another look at their tactics and plans and how these has been working and failing, and make some amends while the players are away.
But one thing is always very significant in such cases, the players either come back the way they left for the breaks or they come back with some other stories. So, it’s always a time when the coaches count their gains and their losses too. We have seen some club coaches in the past refusing to releases some of their crucial players for fears of the players getting injured while on national engagements. We have also witnessed players who are on the forms of their lives go for the breaks and come back with one story or the other that cuts the whole fairy tale shot.
Last season, the last international break saw Edin Hazard pick up an injury that kept him on the sidelines for more than 4 months. Chelsea suffered the problem of not starting the league with him, and this may have been instrumental to their woeful start.
Last week’s break has also presented some stories that are not palatable to some teams and Liverpool and Chelsea are among them. Sadio Mane has been the powerhouse of Liverpool football club, though many people may not want to admit it. When Mane was out for a few weeks last season, the entire team felt the impact. While Liverpool averages 2.2 goals in the premier league with Mane, they won only one out of 7 games when he was away for the CAF Nations Cup last season. So, it is left to be seen how Liverpool will cope without him this term. The latest football odds tough, is showing that it would be a grave loss to Liverpool. He was substituted on the 89th minute of his country’s 2-0 world cup qualifying defeat over Cape Verde on Saturday, and he is expected to be out for at least six weeks. The meaning is that he will miss the games against Manchester United and Tottenham. This is even when Liverpool has been struggling in their last games. It will actually be a heavy blow to them
Chelsea FC have also lost Ngolo Kante. Though he is expected to be back after about 3 weeks, the truth is that he will not be available for selection for Chelsea’s game against Crystal Palace. He may also be absent for their crunch tie against Roma in the Uefa Champions League, where they hope to win the group. Chelsea have not been without Kante since they bought him from Leicester City. While he has been phenomenal for them, no one knows exactly what things will look like when he is not there.