Outside of the summer’s widely popular continental competitions, international breaks in soccer are met with dread from fans everywhere.
Yes, there are some very important and entertaining fixtures that take place during each international break, such as this week’s Euro 2016 playoff rounds. Also, the break is a time where we might gain insights into a manager’s roster decisions for next summer and see promising new faces break into the squad.
Still, being deprived from a weekly full slate of competition in the top European leagues and world class matches in the Champions League, only to be served with a handful of interesting games over two weeks is like being promised three weeks of 70s and sunshine under the condition of having a week of wind and downpour.
As an American who grew up used to a 17 game NFL season with one bye week, these constant interruptions seem harder to grasp. For comparison, in the BPL, teams will enter week 13 effectively already having three “bye weeks.” It is worth noting that many of these teams also partake in mid-week European or domestic league tournaments, but most squads also have the depth and stamina to handle two games a week.
International breaks also seem to be a bane of both coaches and top players alike. No coach in their right mind wants to see their top players get hurt playing in some meaningless friendly and players desire to spend time training with their clubs (who sign the checks) rather than throwing off their form by sporadically leaving for national camps. Without a doubt, international competition is vital to the sport and immortalizes the stars who shine on that stage. Still, all of these breaks seem undesirable for fans, coaches and many players.
To be clear, I’m not calling for sweeping changes in world soccer’s scheduling structure. Rather, I’m simply observed today and was frustrated by the fact that my favorite part of the weekend was taken from me once again, leaving me with no other choice than to witness, from beginning to end, the dumpster fire that is my Cleveland Browns. Luckily, the reparations for this weekend will be worth the wait. (Man City v Liverpool, El Clásico, Juventus v Milan, FC Bayern v Schalke).