The final international break of 2019 is now upon us and, as per usual, FC Bayern Munich will send several players across the world to play for their countries.
The players’ spirits will likely be high after a very successful week, as the men in red got 2-0 and 4-0 wins against Olympiacos and Dortmund, respectively. Now the Bavarian internationals will be swapping the red for white, blue, or — in Thiago and Alphonso Davies’ cases — a different shade of red.
Here are the call-ups for the players for the next two weeks.
Germany: Manuel Neuer, Serge Gnabry, Leon Goretzka, Joshua Kimmich
Bayern’s usual Germany quartet joins Die Mannschaft for their last two qualifiers for Euro 2020. Sadly, Niklas Süle will miss these games with his ACL injury, but Leon Goretzka is back in the squad after missing the last couple of games with niggling thigh injuries.
Germany will qualify for Euro 2020 (and play two out of their three group games in none other than the Allianz Arena) if they defeat Belarus and the Netherlands do not lose to Northern Ireland. Should Germany draw with Belarus, they will still advance if the Netherlands defeat Northern Ireland. The Bayern quartet has enjoyed immense success in their last two games, so hopefully they can help Germany secure qualification early on and face Northern Ireland with the weight off their shoulders.
In other news, Marco Reus and Kai Havertz will both miss these two games with minor injuries, leaving coach Joachim Low quite understaffed.
Germany face Belarus in Mönchengladbach on Saturday (2:45pm EST) before playing Northern Ireland in what could be a do-or-die matchup in Frankfurt on Tuesday (2:45pm EST).
Poland: Robert Lewandowski
Die Roten’s No. 9 swaps his Bayern top-scorer hat for his Poland top-scorer hat as Poland faces Israel (Jerusalem, Saturday, 2:45pm EST) and Slovenia (Warsaw, Tuesday, 2:45pm EST) in their last few Euro qualifiers. However, in contrast to his German teammates, Lewandowski will be playing with little, if any, pressure following Poland’s qualification in October.
The main focus is on whether the Poland captain will actually start any of these games, considering that he requires a minor surgery that he has thus far postponed. Bayern fans have seen that this injury (?) has not impeded Lewandowski’s performance whatsoever over the past few weeks, but considering that Poland are already through, it might be prudent not to risk Lewandowski in two meaningless games.
France: Benjamin Pavard, Kingsley Coman, Corentin Tolisso
French trio Pavard, Coman, and Tolisso will square off against Moldova (Paris, Thursday, 2:45pm EST) and Albania (Tirana, Sunday, 2:45pm EST) as they aim to take their final steps toward the Euros. Lucas Hernandez will miss these games due to his ankle injury.
France are in a good position to qualify, leading their group with Turkey with 19 points each, four ahead of third-placed Iceland. Even if France slip up in one of their games, they will be safe as long as Turkey does not lose to Iceland in Istanbul. If the world champions defeat Moldova, they will be safely through to the finals.
Croatia: Ivan Perisic
Perisic joins the World Cup finalists after coming off of a decent run of form in the last week. Having scored approximately thirty seconds after coming on against Olympiacos, and “assisting” Mats Hummels’ own-goal against Dortmund, the Croat will be looking to replicate his performances for his country as they face Slovakia (Rijeka, Saturday, 2:45pm EST) in their final qualifier and Georgia (Pula, Tuesday, 12pm EST) in a friendly.
Croatia currently lead their group with 14 points, 4 points clear of third placed Slovakia. A win or draw against Slovakia on Saturday would seal the deal for Croatia. However, considering Croatia, Hungary, and Slovakia are only two points apart each, there is no room for slip-ups, as a defeat could put Croatia’s hopes of qualification in jeopardy.
Austria: David Alaba
Alaba’s Austria, in the same group as Lewandowski’s Poland, have already secured at least a playoff spot due to their Nations League performance. They play North Macedonia in Vienna on Saturday before going to Latvia for their final game on Tuesday.
Austria are five points clear of third-placed North Macedonia, who are tied on points with Slovenia and Israel. A win against North Macedonia would seal qualification for Alaba and his henchmen with a game to spare. However, a draw or defeat would put the Austrians in danger of being overtaken by all three trailing teams.
In light of the trivial importance of these games, Bayern fans will hope that Thiago will be spared any risk of injury. Then again, considering the Spaniard started on the bench in Bayern’s last two games, it may not be the worst idea for him to get some game time and build up his form for the coming weeks.
Brazil: Philippe Coutinho
The only player not to play any competitive matches this international break, Coutinho will travel all the way to the Middle East to play two friendlies. The first one will be against arch-rivals Argentina in Riad, Saudi Arabia (Friday, 12pm EST), while the other will be against none other than South Korea in Abu Dhabi (Tuesday, 8:30am EST).
Coutinho’s performances for Bayern have been pretty patchy following his bright start, so here’s hoping that he can get his confidence back playing for the Canaries. Brazil will also be hoping that he can deliver for his country, considering the record world champions are without a single win since their Copa America final victory in July (3 draws, 1 defeat).
Canada: Alphonso Davies
Last but not least, Bayern’s new stellar left-back Davies comes to the USA to play the Stars and Stripes in the CONCACAF Nations League (Orlando, Saturday, 7pm EST). The youngster comes off some amazing performances in Bayern red in his last four games, and it remains to be seen if he can replicate them in Canadian red.
Canada are currently leading their Nations League group with three wins out of three, including an impressive 2-0 win over the USA last month. Davies himself scored in that game.
Here’s hoping that everyone enjoys success for their national teams (except Coutinho against South Korea), and of course, stays injury free! Viel Glück, alle!