During the league season, Liverpool's senior squad members traipsing off to their respective national sides is just a notch below a Joe Cole wind sprint on things I enjoy watching. There's the worry about injury, the predictably suffocating nationalism from Martin Samuel, and, more than anything, a few weeks without football for Liverpool. Yes, at times it provides a welcomed rest from a bad run of form or additional recovery time for those already injured, but I doubt I'm alone in thinking that international breaks during the league calendar are something to be dreaded rather than celebrated.
So it's with conflicted feelings that I enter the summer. With no real football until August for Liverpool, internationals present a chance to watch some high-level competition and a glimpse of senior squad players past, present and future, as well as a break from the doldrums that a summer without any major competition (other than Copa América) ushers in. It's not exactly Liverpool, but it's not exactly nothing, so we have to take it. Plus, it's always fun to jump on the hype train and then watch as the finger pointing gets ridiculously out of hand while things crash and burn.
Because we've never done any of that as Liverpool supporters.
For better or worse, though, we've got plenty to keep us busy over the next couple days, so let's take a look at what's on tap:
Friday, June 3rd:
From a Liverpool standpoint, nobody in action that I'm aware of, as Milan Jovanovic was left out of the Serbian squad for their Asian tour and we're not really counting Alberto Aquilani for Italy (or are we? Just kidding, that's Media Watch, and its only purpose is to crush your soul), but here's the rundown---first for the Euro qualifiers, then for the friendlies:
Kazakhstan v. Azerbaijan
Austria v. Germany
Belgium v. Turkey
Faroe Islands v. Slovenia
Italy v. Estonia
Romania v. Bosnia-Herzegovina
Belarus v. France
Moldova v. Sweden
San Marino v. Finland
Croatia v. Georgia
Liechtenstein v. Lithuania
South Korea v. Serbia
Luxembourg v. Hungary
Peru v. Czech Republic
Saturday, June 4th
Much more Liverpool investment tomorrow, as there's squad members involved in both Euro qualifying and a couple of friendlies.
Russia v. Armenia
Slovakia v. Andorra
Martin Skrtel will continue his stint at the heart of the Slovakian defense as they look to retain their spot atop Group B. Andorra are cemented to the bottom of the group and have only scored once in qualifying, so it's likely to be an easy three points and a chance to gain ground on goal differential for Skrtel and company.
Macedonia v. Ireland
Latvia v. Israel
Greece v. Malta
England v. Switzerland
Glen Johnson's the only Liverpool representative left in the England squad---Steven Gerrard and Andy Carroll are spending the summer rehabbing from their respective injuries, and Joe Cole is busy being Joe Cole. It's a probable start for Johnson in an important match for England, as they're deadlocked with Montenegro on 10 points, six ahead of the Swiss and Bulgaria.
Montenegro v. Bulgaria
Iceland v. Denmark
Christian Poulsen's playing, but that's not enough of a reason for anyone to watch, unless they're interested in buying him, and those people probably don't exist.
Portugal v. Norway
Raul Meireles is in the squad, and he looked relatively healthy against Villa, so I'd imagine he's back to full strength with a few more weeks' rest. He's been a mainstay in the Portuguese midfield and is a safe bet to start in a match that could see the Iberians climb to the top of Group H. Also, there's probably some John Arne Riise to be had, which is always nice.
Brazil v. Netherlands
On paper this is one of the more appealing matches of the next two days, with Lucas and Dirk Kuyt both featuring in some way for their respective sides. It's a massive summer for Lucas, who's going to be one of the key men for Brazil in the Copa later this summer, and with only a month to prepare, Mano Menezes will be looking to settle his squad. Kuyt's sure to be involved ahead of their friendly with Luis Suarez and Uruguay next Wednesday.
United States v. Spain
There's a chance Pepe Reina gets action in another relatively interesting friendly, with the two squads meeting for the first time since the US defeated Spain in the Confederations Cup in 2009. Reina's last trip to the Americas didn't go so well, and Iker Casillas is always going to be the frontrunner, but hopefully there's something in it for Liverpool's freshly recommitted number one.
Bolivia v. Paraguay
Hopefully that's enough to tide you over, because if it's not you're pretty much out of luck. Nothing doing on the transfer front other than the names multiplying exponentially (and Englishly), so this'll have to do. There's sure to be coverage wherever you're at, and you can check the usual listings---ESPN3.com, MyP2P.eu, Atdhenet.tv, FromSportcom.com---for internet viewing.
I'll be back tomorrow with any news and notes and any relevant happenings from today's action; for now, be content to soak up the knowledge that teamwork and selfishness are equally important: