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Seven on national duty

Host of FCB World Cup stars excused

The new Bundesliga season does not start until a week on Friday, but most of the world’s national teams are already returning to action this week on the first official matchday of the new campaign. The timing of the friendly fixtures has most club coaches shaking their heads in dismay, as they are already struggling to knock their best players into shape following the demanding World Cup and short pre-season.

Nine days ahead of the official Bundesliga restart fixture between Bayern and Wolfsburg, Germany boss Joachim Löw has sided with his counterparts at club level and opted not to call up most of his World Cup squad for a friendly meeting with Denmark in Copenhagen on Wednesday. Of Bayern’s eight Germany stars, Löw has nominated only Mario Gomez and Toni Kroos, prompting Louis van Gaal to express “great satisfaction.”

Dutch and French follow suit

Netherlands Bondscoach Bert van Marwijk has pursued a similar policy, declining to name any of his World Cup runners-up for the meeting with Ukraine in Kyiv. That means Anatoliy Tymoshchuk will not go head-to-head with Mark van Bommel or any of his other Säbener Strasse team-mates.

For his part, new France boss Laurent Blanc has picked none of the nation’s 23-strong World Cup squad to face Norway, but for rather different reasons: in the wake of a dismal group stage exit and dressing room mutiny in South Africa, Blanc’s intention was to fire a warning shot and survey alternatives in every position. However, the coach has already said that Franck Ribéry has an important role to play in the new French team of the future.

Competitive fixture for Alaba

With Ribéry and most of the German and Dutch stars free to continue preparing for the new campaign in Munich, Gomez, Kroos and Tymoshchuk are joined on their travels to by five further FCB men. Hamit Altintop is in the Turkey squad for the friendly against Romania in Istanbul.

Elsewhere, Ivica Olic will line up for Croatia in Bratislava against surprise World Cup package Slovakia, who reached the last sixteen at Italy’s expense. Martin Demichelis has been called up by Argentina, temporarily in the care of U-20 coach Sergio Batista following Diego Maradona’s dismissal, for a trip to Ireland. The only FCB star in competitive international action is David Alaba, who will play for the Austrian U-21s in a European championship qualifier against Belarus.