The first international break of the 2012/13 season was this week, as World Cup 2014 qualifiers kicked off. There was no break for Liverpool players, though, with 20 Reds getting international call-ups.
Most notably, Steven Gerrard and Glen Johnson both started in England’s 5-0 shellacking of Moldova.
Roy Hodgson started Steven Gerrard alongside Frank Lampard, a rather underwhelming duo in years gone by, in England’s first World Cup qualifier against Moldova. Both players fed off of each other quite well, possibly showing better chemistry in their old age. Steven Gerrard’s best moment of the match came when he calmly slipped Jermaine Defoe through on goal, forcing a good save from Stanislav Namasco. Hodgson strategically subbed Gerrard off at halftime, ending the midfielder’s night prematurely.
Glen Johnson took up his familiar role at right-back for England, and put in a strong performance for the Three Lions. He did well defensively, and as always, pushed forward very effectively. A brilliant cross-field ball from the Liverpool defender handed Frank Lampard his second goal of the first-half. Johnson played the full 90 minutes for Roy Hodgson.
Martin Skrtel and Daniel Agger were the only other Liverpool players to receive a senior-level start for their international sides, playing the full 90 minutes for Slovakia and Denmark respectively.
Aside from a 52nd minute yellow card, Skrtel’s vintage performance, that Liverpool fans have come to know so well, helped Slovakia achieve a 1-1 draw against Lithuania. Agger also put in a respectable showing, captaining Denmark to a 0-0 match against the Czech Republic.
Nuri Sahin also made a senior-level international appearance, coming in for the last 30 minutes of Turkey’s 2-0 defeat to the Netherlands.
Neither Luis Suarez nor Sebastian Coates featured for Uruguay in their 4-0 loss to Colombia. Suarez missed the match due to a yellow card suspension, but is eligible for Uruguay’s next match against Ecuador.
Fabio Borini, Pepe Reina and Joe Allen also received call-ups, but none saw the pitch for their respective countries. Brad Jones was also called up for Australia’s match against Jordan on Tuesday.
A number of Liverpool’s youngsters were also in action for their countries.
Jordan Henderson captained Stuart Pearce’s U21 squad against Azerbaijan, with teammates Martin Kelly and Jonjo Shelvey alongside him. Shelvey continued to impress, stealing the show in Baku, notching an assist off of a free kick and a late goal in a 2-0 victory. The Liverpool playmaker’s goal was his first at the U21 level.
Finally, Raheem Sterling and Adam Morgan competed against Samed Yesil in a U19 friendly between England and Germany.
Neither Sterling nor Morgan had a significant impact on the match, and both were taken off in the second half. Yesil, however, netted two goals and an assist in Germany’s 3-1 win over England. Yesil’s first was a peach of a finish. Following a swift turn just inside of the box, the striker clinically slid the ball into the back of the net. On his second, he followed up his own rebound and put the ball past England’s keeper. He ended his night by slipping Sebastian Kerk through on goal, recording Germany’s third against England. Yesil was subbed off shortly after.
It has been a great week so far from a Liverpool point of view. None of the internationals picked up noteworthy injuries, and most got good minutes against good competition. For regular first team players like Gerrard, Henderson, Shelvey, Kelly, Agger, Skrtel and Sahin, additional minutes may help them to find form and get into midseason form just a bit quicker.