International break for Premier League players

Premier League fantasy takes a one-week break as national teams battle it out in Nations League and friendlies. How will the interlude affect the upcoming PL round?

Premier League managers are never too thrilled about sending their best players away on International duty. The risk of injury is real, and often players come back with a fitness problem. Sometimes they have to travel to the other side of the world too, which is problematic because of both the long flights and jet lag. Let us look at some of the most important national teams (in alphabetic order).


There are no PL players in the squad for the upcoming friendlies against Guatemala and Colombia. Kun Aguero and Nicolas Otamendi have not been called up. On a side note, neither has Lionel Messi, who refuse to play for Argentina until further notice, according to reports.


As usual, there is a lot of quality in the Belgium squad. Several stars from the Premier League still feature for the 3rd place finisher in the World Cup, most prominently Eden Hazard (Chelsea) and Romelu Lukaku (Manchester United). There is also Vincent Kompany (Manchester City), in-form Toby Alderweireld (Tottenham) and his club partner Jan Vertonghen, while Leander Dondecker (Wolverhampton) will find it hard to find a vacant spot in the defence. Mousa Dembele (Tottenham) and Marouane Fellaini (Manchester United) are both possible starters, while new guy Christian Benteke (Crystal Palace) probably will not get any playing time in Tuesday’s Nations League game against Iceland. Before that, Belgium will play a friendly against Scotland.


Brazil have scheduled matches against USA and El Salvador on the east coast of the United States, the last one on Wednesday, only a few days before next PL round. Players like Willian (Chelsea), Roberto Firmino (Liverpool) and Fred (Manchester United) will for sure see quite a bit of game time. Perhaps will newcomer Richarlison get a real chance to prove himself after showing great form for Everton. Allison (Liverpool) will be on the field for sure, but keepers may not be as susceptible to the negative effects of playing Internationals as other players. Andreas Pereira (Manchester United) is in the squad too, but is perhaps unlikely to feature much as he so far has only played for Brazil’s U20 team. Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is actually hoping for Fabinho to get some game time, as the ex-Monaco player has been on the sidelines lately. Worth noting is that Manchester City trio and World Cup travellers Gabriel Jesus, Fernandinho and Ederson are not with the Seleção this time.


Two rather unimportant friendlies are on the list for Chile. The team’s big star, Alexis Sanchez (Manchester United) will not be risked, as medical staff at the PL club asked the national team to give Sanchez a pass. He is back from a minor injury, but he needs to build up fitness at home. There are no PL players in the Chilean squad at this junction.


The squad of World Cup runners-up Croatia does feature their midfield stars Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic, in spite of speculation of the duo retiring from the national team. Mario Mandzukic has left the building, however. As for PL players, we have Dejan Lovren (Liverpool) and Mateo Kovacic (Chelsea) on the official list. Croatia’s fixtures include a friendly against Portugal on Thursday and a Nations League match versus Spain on Tuesday.


England face Spain on Saturday in their first Nations League match. It will be followed on Tuesday by a friendly against Switzerland. Raheem Sterling (Manchester City) will not be participating at Wembley due to a back problem, according to UEFA. However, the squad obviously is packed with Premier League regulars. Here is the complete list:
Goalkeepers: Butland, Pickford, and McCarthy.
Defenders: Alexander-Arnold, Delph, Gomez, Maguire, Rose, Shaw, Stones, Tarkowski, Trippier, and Walker.
Midfielders: Alli, Dier, Henderson, Lallana, Lingard, Loftus-Cheek.
Forwards: Kane, Rashford, Welbeck.


The world champions have a couple of tough matches against Germany and Netherlands in the group stage of the Nations League. Most of the usual suspects from the Russia campaign will show up, especially names like Paul Pogba (Manchester United), Olivier Giroud (Chelsea) and N’Golo Kante (Chelsea). Perhaps will in-form Benjamin Mendy (Manchester City) be given a chance too. All four of them are in the squad. For PL players it is nice that the last of the two matches is on Sunday, and gives them a full week to prepare. Hugo Lloris will not play due to a thigh injury.


After a very disappointing showing in Russia, Die Mannschaft will be interesting to check out in their Nations League match against France on Thursday. It is followed by a friendly against Peru on Sunday. As for PL players, there are three in the 23-man squad: Antonio Rudiger (Chelsea), Leroy Sane (Manchester City) and Ilkay Gundogan (Manchester City). Ozil has retired from the national team.


Sokratis Papastathopoulos (Arsenal) is in the Greek squad for the Nation League matches against Estonia and Hungary. The last of the two matches is being played rather late, on Tuesday, which could give the Arsenal defender too little time to prepare for Saturday’s away game in Newcastle.


Joshua King (Bournemouth) will be a central piece in Norway’s national team for the two Nations League matches against Cyprus and Bulgaria. In-form Southampton player Mohamed Elyonoussi is also in the 22-man squad, alongside Alexander Sørloth (Crystal Palace). The last of the two matches is on Sunday, so players will have a full week to prepare for next PL match.


Serbia face Lithuania and Romania in a couple of Nation League games, played on Friday and Monday. Premier League joint top scorer right now, Alexandar Mitrovic (Fulham) is expected to play both matches, as is Nemanja Matic (Manchester United). Luka Milivojevic (Crystal Palace) is not in the squad, after criticizing coach Krstajic for making the Serbian team playing too risky during the World Cup.


Preparing for Nations League matches against England and Croatia, new Spain coach, Luis Enrique must make do without veterans Iniesta, David Silva and Pique, as the trio has retired in terms of the national team. In the 24-man squad, we can still find many familiar faces. Marcus Alonso, Alvaro Morata, Cesar Azpilicueta and Kepa Arrizabalaga – all regulars on Chelsea – have been called up. There is Manchester United’s David de Gea too, even after a bleak World Cup performance. Finally, although he is not a PL player anymore, let us mention Diego Costa’s late withdrawal from the squad due to personal reasons. He is replaced by Iago Aspas.