Growing up as a kid in Britain in the 70′s and early 80′s, I was accustomed to placing international teams as the pinnacle of the sport. I fondly remember the Home Championships where the British national sides played each other in a memorable tournament each year. I also adored the World Cups with the 1978 and 1982 ones being extremely memorable for me still to this day.
But over the years, club football has overtaken the international teams. I believe that one of the reasons is that we’re so used to seeing international players in the Premier League and Champions League now that club football is essentially made up of all-star teams. If sides like Barcelona, Chelsea, Real Madrid and Inter Milan can buy the best talent in the world, isn’t that much better than watching an international side.
The perfect example of this is England. The national side is improving under Steve McClaren, but let’s consider the starting eleven that’ll probably start against Macedonia.
Paul Robinson, Gary Neville, Rio Ferdinand, John Terry, Shaun Wright Philips, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Scott Parker, Stewart Downing, Wayne Rooney, Peter Crouch
Out of these players, is there one that’s playing at the top of his game right now?
Crouch has been the best performer for England recently, but he hasn’t played for Liverpool much due to Rafa Benitez’s squad rotation system. Rooney has been pathetic and should have been dropped. Downing has been injured. Parker means well, but has been suffering with a weak Newcastle defence. Lampard has been improving, but is still way below par. Gerrard has been less influential for Liverpool as of late. Wright-Philips has been practically invisible for Chelsea (no matter how much I rate the player).
The backline of Terry, Ferdinand and Neville have been below-par also with all three of them looking suspect at times this season. Robinson meanwhile has been a sieve for Spurs although he did make an incredible save for Tottenham against Portsmouth this past Sunday.
If you look at the players who are lighting up the Premiership, most of them are foreign with Cristiano Ronaldo and Didier Drogba the two best examples.
That said, let’s give the international teams the benefit of the doubt over the next week to see how they perform. Watch for a listing of the matches being shown on U.S. TV in this week’s EPL Talk Email Newsletter (subscribe via the link from the homepage of EPLTalk.com).