Pros & Cons of International Football Friendlies

BRIDGEVIEW, IL - OCTOBER 21: David Beckham #23 of the Los Angeles Galaxy passes the ball against Wilman Conde #22 of the Chicago Fire on October 21, 2007 at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Illinois. The Fire defeated the Galaxy 1-0. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)There are two schools of thought when it comes to the playing of international football friendlies; one is that they are an invaluable indicator of certain players’ potential, specific team formations and offer the coaches an opportunity to experiment with new players and tactics. The other is that they are a waste of time.

The Pros of International Football Friendlies

Without the added pressure of fighting for a result, international football friendlies afford national managers the opportunity to experiment with their team, tactics and formations in a way that they are unable to do when they are playing in tournaments or qualification matches. This can and has lead to new international talents being unearthed and new styles of play being adopted.

It is hard to implement new tactics in training, and although the pressure might not be as intense when playing in an international football friendly, the chance to try out a new formation, a new set piece routine or even a new midfield combination in an actual match is invaluable. Friendly matches also give managers the opportunity to blood new talent who may not yet be ready for competitive internationals. Many of the world’s best players first pulled on their national strip for an international friendly.

The cons of international football friendlies

Many domestic club managers have knocked the notion of playing international football friendlies. They see them as simply a further opportunity for their players to pick up an unnecessary and possibly costly injury. Added to this, managers are also understandably not too keen on the amount of travelling involved for what they see as a meaningless friendly. With many South American stars, especially those from Argentina and Brazil, plying their trade in the top European leagues, a 30-hour round trip to play 45 minutes in a friendly is not seen as conducive to a good performance for their club team.

For the fans, international football friendlies can also tend to be fractured affairs without much ebb and flow due to the tendency of coaches to try out new tactics and formations. With an unlimited number of substitutions often allowed, games are also often interrupted by tactical changes, again, affecting the flow of the game and increasing the tendency of the game ending in a stalemate.