As Liverpool’s returning stars turn their attention to some crucial domestic fixtures, we look back on how they performed for their countries in the season’s first international break.
England: Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joe Gomez, Jordan Henderson, Adam Lallana
It was a case of painful déjà vu for Lallana as he pulled up injured in training and was forced to return to his club early, dashing his hopes of some important minutes.
Clubmates Henderson and Gomez were both handed starts as England kicked off their Nations League campaign with a home tie against Spain. The Reds skipper served as Gareth Southgate’s midfield anchor, while Gomez slotted into his back three. Neither produced their best as the Spaniards came from behind to win 2-1, with Henderson cautioned before being subbed off and Gomez’s defending for the visitors’ winner questioned.
Both were rested for the visit of Switzerland on Tuesday evening, but Alexander-Arnold was selected at right wing-back. The role is unfamiliar to the 19-year-old, but he impressed with his composure on the ball and helped his side to a clean sheet in their 1-0 victory.
Swiss talisman Xherdan Shaqiri also started at the King Power and spurned perhaps his side’s best chance, striking the outside of the post with a hurried shot after England were caught in possession. He was taken off after 80 minutes.
It certainly wasn’t all bad news for Shaqiri, though. Three days earlier, he turned in a man-of-the-match performance as Switzerland hammered Iceland 6-0 in St. Gallen. His free-kicks proved too hot for the opposition to handle – one was whipped delightfully into the far corner, while two others led to his side’s fourth and sixth goals.
Brazil: Alisson Becker, Fabinho, Roberto Firmino
All three Brazilian Reds started against the USA in Maryland on Saturday, with Firmino opening the scoring on 11 minutes to strengthen his claim to a role in the first XI after playing second fiddle to Gabriel Jesus at the World Cup. There was another clean sheet for Alisson in the eventual 2-0 win, while Fabinho earned plaudits for his display at right-back. Manager Tite went as far as to declare he had the necessary ‘DNA’ for the position. The former Monaco man has not kicked a ball for the Reds this season, but this performance was surely food for Jurgen Klopp’s thought.
A significant concern heading into the international break was that the trio would return to Melwood fatigued following a meeting with El Salvador in the early hours of Wednesday morning. Happily, all three were rested and should be in top shape for the weekend.
The Netherlands: Virgil van Dijk, Georginio Wijnaldum
Captain Van Dijk and key midfielder Wijnaldum both played from the off as the Netherlands entertained Peru in Amsterdam on Thursday. The South Americans took the lead on 13 minutes to deny Van Dijk a shutout, but the Dutch were able to turn it around thanks to two Memphis Depay goals. Wijnaldum was hooked at the break as manager Ronald Koeman experimented with his squad.
A hard-fought 2-1 Nations League defeat to world champions France followed on Sunday. Wijnaldum had a great chance to level things up at 1-0 when he got between the French centre-halves, but he side-footed wide from close range. Van Dijk, meanwhile, had an opportunity to get the measure of Kylian Mbappe ahead of their upcoming Champions League battle and held his own against the wonderkid. He may, however, have been annoyed with himself when Olivier Giroud beat him to the ball to volley home France’s winner 15 minutes from time.
Egypt: Mohamed Salah
There was just the one game for Salah (along with the rest of Liverpool’s African contingent) but it proved a very eventful one. He saw an early spot-kick saved by the Niger goalkeeper but soon teed up his side’s opener. Salah then scored his side’s third, but only with a rebound after once again being denied from 12 yards. A headed goal and another assist followed as the Egyptians ran out 6-0 winners in the African Cup of Nations qualifier. Happier times for Liverpool’s main man after a difficult World Cup.
Senegal: Sadio Mane
In another qualifier, Mane’s Senegal were twice pegged back in a 2-2 draw with Madagascar. The match, though, was totally overshadowed by a pre-match stampede which saw one supporter lose his life and around 40 others sustain injuries.
Guinea: Naby Keita
Keita once again led out Guinea as they picked up an important 1-0 win against the Central African Republic in the capital Conakry. The result leaves them top of a qualifying group which also includes Ivory Coast and Rwanda.
Scotland: Andrew Robertson
Robertson faced a baptism of fire as Scotland skipper as Belgium, ranked second in the world, visited Hampden Park. Romelu Lukaku and Eden Hazard were among the goals as the away side underlined the gulf in class with a 4-0 victory.
It was a different story on Monday, though, as the left-back led his side to a clean sheet and a 2-0 win against Albania in their first Nations League game.
A lot better result and performance tonight! Always nice to start the campaign on a positive note. Until next time ???????? https://t.co/jFQabQ2y5Y
— Andrew Robertson (@andrewrobertso5) September 10, 2018
Croatia: Dejan Lovren
There’s little to report here, because while Lovren was selected by the World Cup runners-up, injury predictably ruled him out of their games against Portugal and Spain. No wonder they shipped six goals in their rather humiliating defeat to Luis Enrique’s side.
England U21: Dominic Solanke
Solanke trained with the senior squad at first due to a shortage of numbers but missed out on a starting spot for the Young Lions against the Netherlands, with Everton’s Dominic Calvert-Lewin getting the nod instead. He was unable to break the stalemate when he came on as a substitute.
The striker returned to the XI for the next qualifier in Latvia, and provided the assist for Mason Mount’s winning goal.
International matches involving Liverpool players: 13
Goals scored by Liverpool players: 4 (Shaqiri, Firmino, Salah x2)
Clean sheets (defenders only): 3 (Alexander-Arnold vs Switzerland, Alisson & Fabinho vs USA and Robertson vs Albania)