Martin Whiteley looks at how having strength in depth in a national team can help leading league teams when they return from international fixtures.
‘Please don’t come back injured’ must run through the minds of coaches when their star players head off on international duty. Bosses of sides that contain players that compete for the powerhouse countries can often sleep a little easier though.
You would think that the players from such teams as Lyon and PSG – who had 10 participants between them in the latest France squad selected by Corinne Diacre – would be highly influential during an international week. But that may prove not to be the case.
In the 11-0 thumping of North Macedonia by Les Bleus, three Lyon players saw no game time at all. Only captain Eugénie Le Sommer (Lyon), who scored four goals, and Grace Geyoro (PSG), with two tallies, played the whole match. The other players selected from Lyon and PSG were used sparingly.
Although France faced a sterner test a few days later away to Austria – being held to a scoreless draw – Diacre was still able to rejig her team.
Le Sommer was the only outfield player from the leading two domestic sides to participate for the entirety of both internationals.
Not surprisingly back for their clubs at the weekend, the players were raring to go as Lyon claimed their seventh straight win after a 5-0 success away to Montpellier. PSG were able to stay two points behind the leaders when they defeated Fleury 91 4-0 on home soil.
Barcelona contributed around a third of the players that Spain coach Jorge Vilda selected in his squad to face the Czech Republic.
With a plethora of options at the coach’s disposal, two players returned to Barca having not featured at all in the 4-0 home win for Spain. Mapi León, Patri Guijarro, and Aitana Bonmatí the only players from the Catalonia-based side to play the full match.
So, after a little help from their friends in midweek to get the job done for their country, the less than exerted players from Barcelona had little trouble seeing off Real Betis 5-0 on their travels. This win for the league leaders was their fourth straight Primera División Femenina success.
Scheduled to play England in a friendly – before the game was cancelled due to a positive coronavirus test from an England backroom staff member – both Bayern Munich and Wolfsburg were heavily represented in the Germany squad picked by Martina Voss-Tecklenburg.
The free week though did allow the leading German clubs full use of their internationals in their last-32 DFB-Pokal Frauen games at the weekend.
Holders Wolfsburg led the charge of the top-flight teams into the next round with an 11-0 win away to Bochum. Frauen-Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich secured a a 2-0 victory on the road against Jena. The only shocks: Gütersloh 3-2 Essen (AET) and Cologne 1-0 Bayer Leverkusen.
Clubs need to buy international-calibre players to be successful. But if you get personnel that play for a national team that has strength in depth, then that is an added bonus that can’t be overlooked, and could definitely help the sleep pattern of the coach.
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