clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

What to Watch For During International Friendlies

New, comments

One of the more significant friendly dates has many intriguing rooting interests in Bayern's own representatives

Alex Grimm

Tuesday begins the 100 day countdown to the beginning of the FIFA World Cup in Brazil. Football's governing body timed Wednesday's friendly perfectly, an international season where Friendlies have more meaning than any other point throughout the four year hiatus of the worlds greatest sporting competition.

With 17 Bayern München players called into international duty, the Stern des Südens have a lot of different rooting interests beyond the German flag that they are sworn to support. With eight matches spaced throughout the day, here is what you should soak in as much as you can.

1. Who Plays

The obvious names are Franck Ribéry and Xherdan Shaqiri, all attempting to restore fitness. Their prolonged absences could exclude them, but the three would not be called into the national teams if their respective managers did not think the would be fit enough. The trio might not get a full game, although nobody called into the national team likely will, but even a good 10 minute shift will be telling how fit each will be come the weekend.

Non-injured players are also worth monitoring as well. Thiago Alcântara and Rafinha are both fringe players for La Roja and the Seleçao respectively, so a good long look would be a good sign for their World Cup chances. Rafinha has a great opportunity considering Luis Felipe Scolari did not call his main competition, Maicon, into the side. Thiago, the youngest Spaniard Vicente del Bosque called upon, has a little more traffic in front of him. Whether his spectacular form will correlate to his squad selection may rest in how del Bosque handles the friendly against Italy.

2. Where Players Play

The transformation of Philipp Lahm to a midfielder has further unraveled the genius to his still ignorant spectators. The next episode of the Lahm experience is if his work in the center of the park is restructured to his international duties. He did take a shift in the pivot when the Nationalelf traveled to Italy, parking next to Sami Khedira, so him playing there is not an astonishment. The significance of a central role this time around is the first step to permanence in the midfield, which only the World Cup would solidify.

Another move with imminent solidity is the progression of Javier Martínez into a center back. Many media who released the Spain roster classified the 25-year-old as a defender, a position that Pep Guardiola has placed him in each of the last three matches. If del Bosque employs Martínez similarly, if at all, in a defensive role, perhaps his future is in a position he allegedly wanted to avoid playing. All things considered, Martínez may have a shorter path to the team sheet in the back, considering the aging generation of defenders currently in the Spanish pool.

3. The Ribéry/Robben Matchup

While we will see Ribéry and Shaqiri occupy the same flank in Brazil in the group stage of the World Cup, Bayern fans get another attacking treat if Ribéry and Arjen Robben butt heads. Neither might feature for their sides – Robben was ruled questionable on Tuesday – and even if they do, they might not be on the pitch at the same time. Still, given Ribéry's support in defense and Robben's attacking fury, it is a scintillating showcase for an exhibition.

Shaqiri's Swiss is due to meet Mario Mandžukić's Croatia as well, although the same provisions apply. The discrepancy in positioning also makes the matchup a little less exciting, but it is always nice to see comrades exchange jersey's following a 90 minute duel.