A funny thing happens during international friendlies, particualrly when a team loses.
Invariably, cries that “this game doesn’t matter” eminate from supporters, conveying a fundamental misunderstanding of the purpose of international friendlies. In many ways, it’s self-delusion at its finest. It’s like a jaded boyfriend saying, “I didn’t like her anyway,” after a girlfriend breaks up with him. These are defense mechanisms signifying denial and/or hurt, which is why you rarely hear this refrain after an emphatic victory.
I won’t mince words. Friendlies matter. Sure, the final result is not the penultimate measure of mattering. However, player performances and how players combine certainly matter given the limited assessment opportunities on the international calender prior to the games that really count. (more…)