We are at the international break again. It’s that time of the year when mostly all Barca players set off to play for their national teams (or U-21s depending) and us fans spend an anxious week chewing our finger nails and setting up countdown charts for players returning sans niggles or injuries. We have a thinnish squad as it is, to put it mildly. Add to that the number of minutes our regular starters play, thanks to Pep Guardiola’s policy that substitutions ought to start only at the 85th minute, if at all. Heck, we even had Sir Alex Ferguson attempting to jinx us by wondering how Barca players manage to play just so darned much. So you can understand our reluctance to see our players fly all around the globe to play some more in “meaningless friendlies” to boot.
But it’s not exactly meaningless, we hear you protest, and you’re right. It’s the Euro qualifiers. And Argentina / Brazil are trying to put a team together for Copa America this summer. The Copa is important to some players, Leo Messi did say that he used up his only Christmas wish on it (and by the way it’s about time someone told him the truth about Santa). Alves probably wants to win the Copa too, it’s something to do over the summer and why not? A lot of people have paid hard-earned money to watch the players do what they do best. But still it’s a bit upsetting that our players can’t make like Cristiano Ronaldo and catch a breather before the all-important month that is April.
April is kind of a culmination of what the team has been working towards the entire season. Well yes, May is important too, but we can talk about that later in April. Hopefully. Apart from apparently playing Real Madrid every alternate day, there are a slew of other important games coming up, and there’s a lot of traveling (not just to Bernabeu and back). The away game at Villarreal isn’t the ideal game to play for players combating FIFA virus and jet-lag, especially with Real Madrid snapping at our heels, with a daisy-fresh and rested Cristiano Ronaldo to boot. To lose a game is to maybe lose the league, so no pressure.
We have faith in Del Bosque. Any man who looks more like a walrus than most walruses do is certain to exercise restraint when it comes to his players. There’s just some Yoda-like quality about him. “Play for 20 minutes each, you will. A tough month ahead there is” we can almost hear him say. It is Batista who worries us more, a man who is punishing Tevez for the same offense we are urging our players to perpetrate. We need Messi and Masche! Well…yeah okay, and Gabi too! Alves should hopefully be okay as he’s playing only one friendly, and that too in London. No we aren’t trying to jinx him, please Alves, be okay.
All we can do now is to keep our fingers crossed and offer our daily prayers to the Gods of football. And practice breathing, it’s bound to come in handy during April. Visca Barca!
Spain vs Czech Republic on Friday 25th March
USA vs Argentina on Saturday 26th March
Brazil vs Scotland on Sunday 27th March
Lithuania vs Spain on Tuesday 29th March
Costa Rica vs Argentina on Tuesday 29th Match