Tonight, the final batch of internationals before the culmination of the club season will take place, so for Jurgen Klopp and 19 other Premier League managers, there is just one more uncontrollable batch of nerves to endure prior to getting their players back from now to the third week of May. Which fixtures will Liverpool fans be eyeing to ensure that the Reds report a clean bill of health for Saturday’s trip to Selhurst Park?
England’s 1-0 win over the Netherlands on Friday was overshadowed by the early injury to Joe Gomez, one which means the young defender is set to miss some crucial games for Liverpool in the first couple of weeks in April. There is a strong possibility that Jordan Henderson and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain could start again for Gareth Southgate’s team at Wembley against Italy after their positive performances in Amsterdam, although the ex-Middlesbrough boss might also wish to give Adam Lallana some much-needed game time, not just from a country but also a club point of view. For once, I wouldn’t mind seeing Liverpool’s number 20 appearing in an England friendly in order for him to get some action, although those are words I could come to regret horribly.
Such is the array of midfield talent boasted by Germany right now that Emre Can did not even make the matchday squad for their draw with Spain last Friday. However, with Joachim Low likely to have a look at as many players as possible, the Liverpool man could come into the world champions’ line-up for tonight’s friendly with Brazil, for whom Roberto Firmino might well start after he came on as a substitute in the 3-0 win over Russia. The meeting of these two giants of world football inevitably evokes memories of that extraordinary World Cup semi-final four years ago when the Germans thumped Brazil 7-1 in their own backyard.
Greece are known for being defensively sound and proving adept at frustrating superior opposition, but it has been a long time since their back four had to face someone quite like Mohamed Salah. Egypt take on the 2004 European champions off the back of a 2-1 defeat to Portugal in which the reigning kings of Europe scored twice in stoppage time. Get the rosary beads out for this one and pray that the ‘Egyptian King’ flies home in perfect nick for Saturday.
Andrew Robertson was one of the few Liverpool players to feature for 90 minutes in the weekend’s friendlies, playing the entirety of Scotland’s 0-1 defeat by Costa Rica, and as the nation’s undisputed first choice left-back, expect him to start against Hungary tonight too. He is another man whose evening will be monitored closely by Klopp and Liverpool supporters, so integral has he become to the Reds in recent months.
By contrast to Robertson, Sadio Mane was an unused substitute for Senegal in their draw with Uzbekistan on Friday. That means he could come in for the Lions’ friendly against Bosnia-Herzegovina, who are still spearheaded by Roma striker Edin Dzeko. Meanwhile, Ragnar Klavan’s Estonia take on Georgia four days after the centre-back’s nation drew 0-0 with Armenia, another ex-Soviet state.
England’s under-21s could be eight points clear at the top of their qualifying group for the 2019 European Championships by the end of tonight if they beat Ukraine at Bramall Lane and other results go in their favour also. Captain Dominic Solanke will probably be ruled out, but Liverpool team-mate Trent Alexander-Arnold is an almost certain starter, while on-loan Reds midfielder Ovie Ejaria could also line out for the Three Lions.
My nation (Republic of Ireland) isn’t in action tonight, meaning that I’ll be keeping a close eye across all the matches mentioned above in the fervent hope that every Liverpool player gets through the night unscathed. I suspect plenty of other Kopites will be in the very same boat.