Why do we sleep on the same side of the bed every night? Why people get upset when you take “their” seat in the bus on the morning commute? It is simple we are creatures of habit. Once we establish a routine no-one should interfere, or else all hell breaks loose. That is exactly what happens with the international breaks in the middle of the Barclay’s Premier League season. Just when our team is starting to get into gear and we start to get comfortable thinking we know our team’ strengths and weaknesses, FIFA’s patriotic call throws us into the unknown with players coming back injured from international duty and the club’s rhythm paying the consequences. However, in rare occasions, such as this past two weeks, patriotism works in our favor.
For Chelsea fans, like myself, there were several international games of interest. For instance, Schurrle’ s performance under the German regime. While competing for a spot in the starting lineup against top class teammates is nothing new to Andre, with the national team he lacks the benefit he enjoys at Chelsea of being an alternative to hazard’s extreme inclination for dribbling towards the middle.
In other words, within the German squad he is competing against players of his same mold such as Reus, who also has the advantage of playing in German soil. This kind of competition on paper would have relegated to cameos when a match is decided in favor of the Germans but real life is so much more interesting than stats and reputations captured on databases, hence, Schurrle was given the opportunity to continue his excellent form with Chelsea through Germany’ s national team.
Andre didn’t disappoint, not only was he a nightmare for the opposing defenses in every German attack, he was the star. Against the Republic of Ireland he demonstrated how modern efficient football should be played, timing his runs with precision, making diagonals towards the center of the pitch only when the defense was flat footed and having a buffet on the space left on the flanks plus scoring a goal. The match vs. Sweden was more of the same delightful football from Schurrle plus a hat-trick leaving the Vikings defense looking absolutely ridiculous. In short, he gave more evidence to the ones (myself included) claiming for his continued selection over Hazard as a starting Chelsea’s midfielder.
Watch his performance against Sweden,
Continuing on the same vein, Mata’s performance against Georgia reminded everyone that unless you have Xavi or Iniesta on your team, Juan should be in the starting lineup. He gave the World Cup Champions an extra gear while also securing the victory that allows Spain to defend its title in Brazil next year. Mata’s ability to split defenses and find the open teammate goes hand and hand with anybody noted for executing precise runs (Cesc,Schurrle). The Andre-Juan tandem should start together for the foreseeable future with Chelsea.
On the other hand, from the Chelsea players representing England -Lampard, Cahill- we did not learn anything new. Lampard showed that he can still contribute but only for a limited time, so he should be used from the bench in any team, and Cahill was as solid as he has been for his club, yet nothing spectacular. The remaining Chelsea players that saw action on this international break performed as expected with the only notable points being De Bruyne’s and Lukaku’s goals for Belgium.
On top of all that, leaving the good news for Chelsea aside (no injuries, players playing as expected), the international break was full of entertaining twists and turns. From the surprising fact of having Belgium, Switzerland and Colombia seeded for Brazil 2014; the last time Colombia was at the world cup was so long ago that a one legged player known as Beckham scored his first goal for England, not surprisingly from a free kick (1998). To the heart stopping ending of the Concacaf’s qualifier, where Mexico was eliminated from the World Cup at two different times during its match with Costa Rica, and finally got the chance to face New Zealand in a playoff for a spot at the World Cup thanks to injury time goals by the United States in its game versus Panama.
Still if the football gods are to be fair, Mexico should not qualify for the World Cup since it is only getting an extra chance by virtue of playing on the Concacaf, any other team in any other confederation would have been eliminated after winning only 2 out of 10 games as Mexico did. But if Uruguay can use its savings the last four years to be seeded, if qualified, over the Netherlands, the Mexican people deserve to have all its Univision machine making noise in Brazil.
So, this break was a period for confirming our observations plus giving us unexpected entertainment in the process. Let us hope the World Cup itself is as entertaining as its prelude.
PS: Once Fernando Torres is fit again Mourinho should have regular meetings with Vicente Del Bosque on a regular basis, because even though Negredo performed well for Spain, “el niño”s higher level compared to Negredo’s, when at the top of his game,will make both “La Furia Roja” and Chelsea better.