It's springtime in the northern hemisphere with the calendars turning the page over to March. A time to emerge from winter hibernation. A time to be reborn. A time for love. A time for ... international football? Ugh.
Yes, that's right, everyone's favorite thing ever is back, FIFA-mandated international breaks! In a little over two weeks, after our game against West Ham United on the 19th, football breaks for Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers, World Cup qualifiers, and various other international friendlies. The latter kind are the ones that are especially useless; at least the non-European teams have something tangible to fight for.
In any case, despite Chelsea's terrible season, our players are still in demand by their national teams. Though I suppose that's not surprising in Willian's case. And while you might think Oscar hasn't really excelled consistently, when Kaká's still getting the call, there's no reason Oscar shouldn't either.
Alisson (Internacional), Diego Alves (Valencia), Marcelo Grohe (Gremio)
David Luiz (PSG), Miranda (Internazionale), Gil (Shandong Luneng), Marquinhos (PSG), Danilo (Real Madrid), Dani Alves (Barcelona), Filipe Luis (Atletico Madrid), Alex Sandro (Juventus)
Luiz Gustavo (Wolfsburg), Fernandinho (Manchester City), Renato Augusto (Beijing Guoan), Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool), Oscar (Chelsea), Lucas Lima (Santos), Willian (Chelsea), Kaka (Orlando SC), Douglas Costa (Bayern Munich)
Neymar (Barcelona), Hulk (Zenit St. Petersburg), Ricardo Oliveira (Santos)
Meanwhile, Nigeria, who have yet another new head coach, face fellow African power Egypt in ACN qualifying. After recent struggles, the Super Eagles have made an effort to call up more than just the usual suspects, with an extra emphasis on home-based players ever since last summer, but all three players on Chelsea books have gotten the call. That includes Victor Moses, who's been largely unavailable for the national team thanks to ill-timed injuries after his star turn at the 2013 ACN.
Ikechukwu Ezenwa, Olufemi Thomas, Emmanuel Daniel, Carl Ikeme (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Daniel Akpeyi (Chippa United)
Kalu Orji, Chibuzor Okonkwo, Mathew Etim, Austin Oboroakpo, Sincere Seth, Segun Oduduwa, Chima Akas, Chris Madaki, Oke Ogogatewho, Efe Ambrose (Celtic), Abdullahi Shehu (Uniao de Madeira), Elderson Echiejile (AS Monaco), Stanley Amuzie (Olhanense), Godfrey Oboabona (Caykur Rizespor), Kenneth Omeruo (Kasimpasa)
Ifeanyi Mathew, Usman Mohammed, Etebo Oghenekaro, Yau Hassan, Stanley Dimgba, Ogenyi Onazi (Lazio), Mikel Obi (Chelsea), Kelechi Iheanacho (Manchester City), Azubuike Okechukwu (Yeni Malatyaspor)
Ezekiel Bassey, Prince Aggrey, Bright Onyedikachi, Chisom Chikatara, Godwin Obaje, Ahmed Musa (CSKA Moscow), Moses Simon (KAA Gent), Victor Moses (West Ham United), Aminu Umar (Osmanlispor), Odion Ighalo (Watford), Aaron Samuel (CSKA Moscow), Alex Iwobi (Arsenal), Fanendo Adi (Portland Timbers)
Sincere Seth, of Rhapsody FC, is my new favorite player (name).