Germany's reliance on Bayern Munich players may have given the team a cohesion that buttressed their World Cup 2010 semifinal run, but Bayern coach Louis van Gaal has to deal with the repercussions of his players' rest-less summer.
Eight Bayern players suited-up for the Nationalmannschaft in South Africa. Combine that total with München's Dutch players and you have 11 of the German champions' 26 man senior team playing on the last weekend of the tournament. Seven players from Bayern's starting lineup were on teams that played the maximum number of World Cup matches.
In response to his player's workload, van Gaal has taken the audacious position of asking FIFA to cancel Germany's friendly with Denmark on August 11, a match that comes nine days before München opens their Bundesliga defense against VfL Wolfsburg.
"The players return on August 2 and then they must go away again on international duty on August 9," Dutchman Van Gaal pointed out. "That simply cannot be the case, it’s nonsense.
"If eight players from Bayern Munich are excluded, I think that the Germany FA would have to listen to every club’s case.
"If FIFA are a little reasonable, they would take this date out so soon after a World Cup. I hope that Mr Sepp Blatter listens to us, because this just cannot happen."
August 11 is an official international match day, where FIFA requires the release of players by clubs to their national teams. Per FIFA rules, the releae must come 48 hours before the match.
Beyond FIFA stepping-in, there is another potential solution, one well within the grasp of van Gaal's employers. Bayern Munich and the German federation have historically enjoyed a close relationship, and although Germany is obligated to play Denmark on the second weekend of August, they aren't obligated to play with Bayern players. If preparations for the Wolfsburg match would be irreparably harmed by taking the internationals out of Bayern's training, perhaps the German Football Association could be persuaded to use other players.
Else, we may see a rash of mysterious injuries befall München players the week before August 11.
But FIFA is clear on the prioritization of friendlies and league or cup matches. Per FIFA guidelines on "Release of players for national association representative matches in accordance with the Coordinated International Match Calendar:"
b) Friendly matches on fixed/set dates
These matches take priority over matches in a national championship. In other words, matches in the national championship or cup competition should not be arranged on one of the fixed/set dates.
A club holding the registration of a player called up to play in the national team must release him to the national association on the fixed/set dates for international matches in each calendar year (see enclosure "Coordinated International Match Calendar 2002 – 2004"). The matches may be qualifying matches as defined under Art. 36 Paragraph 2a), or friendly matches.
The player shall also be released for the period of preparation. For a friendly match, this period shall be 48 hours (Paragraph 5a).