Date:Monday November 19 2007
Once again, we have to rely on Cristiano Ronaldo to get us out of a tight corner. The Portuguese winger's role is clear: he must do everything in order to ensure Portugal beat Finland, thus relieving Vidic from playing a pointless qualifier against Kazakhstan on Saturday.
The Serbian defender might be freed from playing for his country if it had no chance of qualifying for Euro 2008. They play on Saturday because their game against Kazakhstan had to be postponed due to heave snowfall and UEFA, always ready to challenge clubs over the interests of the national teams, saw no problem in scheduling the game to November 24 when, by some coincidence, domestic action resumes.
If Serbia beat Poland and Portugal somehow proceed to lose against Finland then the Serbians' faint hopes will stay alive until that final game against the Kazahs. If Ronaldo and co., as expected, gain at least a point against the Finnish team (and remember, their greatest player is Sami Hyypia...) then Vidic might be allowed to skip the last, entirely meaningless fixture played on an entirely inconvenient day and head home for his real duties.
Now it's all good as I fully expect Portugal to triumph and secure their own qualification at the expense of Serbia. But how can you justify Vidic being released while the others play? I mean, everyone have a contract at a club, don't they? All will be needed by their clubs, I suppose. I know that Vidic is an important player for one of the biggest clubs in the world and therefore we have a certain power that can be exploited but one could argue that these powerful clubs can afford to lose one or two players as they have large squads with quality players. Lesser sides do not have this luxury, they are damaged more severely by such unexpected fixtures popping up.
So what's the solution? Easy. Do not arrange fixtures on domestic days. After all, the Premier League do not make Wigan and Aston Villa play each other on an international day. So why should internationals get preferential treatment? Find a day in November or December when no midweek action takes place in domestic leagues to play such a meaningless fixture. Of course, with FIFA's manic obsession with the superior importance of internationals, it is not an option at the moment but times may change...
In the meantime, I'm cheering on Ronaldo to do everything to save Vidic for us.
Date:Monday November 19 2007
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