International Friendlies: Why Are We Playing Them Now?

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International Friendlies: Why Are We Playing Them Now?
Mike Hewitt/Getty Images
Fabio Capello, whose England team will play Denmark later

Tonight sees our attention turn to another seemingly meaningless set of international friendlies; perhaps the only matches England plays that the country simply doesn’t care about.

I can understand their existence.

Preseason equivalents for domestic clubs are vital in their preparation for the competitive matches later on. This is especially true because international players will only play with a small collection of their countrymen at club level. So if the friendlies didn't exist, the likes of Steven Gerrard, Wayne Rooney and Frank Lampard would simply turn up in a competitive qualifier with no experience having played alongside each other.

But the timing of such games is simply bizarre.

These fixtures take place just days after the end of the transfer window, and consequently mean that many players such as Fernando Torres and David Luiz are playing these pointless matches when they could spend the time fitting into their new settings and getting used to the team’s style of play.

Speaking of the domestic clubs, it’s obvious that these friendlies are frustrating the managers more than anyone else, and it’s easy to see why.

Many will say that managers shouldn’t be so unfair deciding to have these friendlies; after all, it gives their players the opportunity to play for their club, the greatest honour.

Should there be International Friendlies tonight?

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This is what playing for your country should be, the greatest honour. But FIFA has managed to make international matches a disruption due to their poor timetable and lack of respect for the domestic clubs.

Just because most international teams haven’t played since November and because the fixtures include glamour games such as Argentina vs. Portugal and France vs. Brazil doesn’t give the games any real purpose. The only people who will care about the matches at all come Thursday morning are the managers.

The likes of Fabio Capello will have a slightly better idea about how to get the most of his team while the likes of Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger will be looking to see if their players have successfully managed to avoid injury.

If Kyle Walker makes his debut for England tonight, then congratulations to him and well done for Frank Lampard, as he will be captaining England for the first time tonight.

But for everyone else, they’ll be happy when the match is over, and they can get this distraction behind them

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