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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 April 2019

Premier League title race: Did Liverpool or Manchester City's players travel furthest during the international break?

We take a look at which club has the advantage as league action returns

The fans don't like it, the players can't complain, but club managers are never short of a grumble or two when it comes to the international break in the football calendar.

At least this time around there was some serious football being played as the European Championship qualifiers were under way, and for followers of the England team, there was plenty of joy as they racked up 10 goals across two dominant victories.

But for Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola and Liverpool's Jurgen Klopp it's a mixed situation.

Liverpool are two points clear of City who have a game in hand as we enter the final leg of the season - Liverpool have just seven matches left to claim a first league title in 29 years.

So for Guardiola and Klopp to then see their star names jet off to play in some cases in another continent is far from ideal.

As they seek to eke out any advantage possible, we've taken a look at which team's players travelled the furthest during the international break.

sp2703 liverpool and man city players
Open the image in a new tab on mobile to zoom in. Ramon Penas / The National.

Note: The distance calculations are based on as the crow flies for the sake of consistency.

Now, Liverpool will have a vital edge when it comes to recovery, as they face Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday afternoon, while City travel to Fulham on Saturday.

As can be seen above, City had 12 of their first team squad away on international duty, whereas Liverpool had 11, although their squad travelled almost 10,000km more.

Sadio Mane, in red-hot form this season, had the longest trip, having represented Senegal in what proved a round journey of more than 9,000km. He scored in his side's 2-1 win over Mali on Tuesday evening. City's Riyad Mahrez was the only other player to travel outside of Europe.

The Brazilian contingent for both clubs weren't required to go beyond Europe as their friendly against Panama was played in Portugal before they moved on to Prague in the Czech Republic.

Roberto Firmino and Gabriel Jesus both found the back of the net to give their confidence a boost ahead of the weekend.

The international break does, meanwhile, give those not involved with their international side a chance to rest weary limbs, recharge the mind and come back fresh for the title run in.

If you take a look at Mohamed Salah's social media from the past week you'd think it's the summer holidays with the Egyptian, given a rest from national duty, strolling across an exotic beach before making an appearance at the Dubai Mall. Klopp himself has also been in Dubai.

The Liverpool manager said Salah, who has scored 20 goals this season, "always played pretty much all games, everywhere for country, for us and all that stuff, so it was really important [he could have a break]."

He added: “Now he will be here, a full week to prepare for the rest of the season, so that’s cool. I spoke to him, he looked really relaxed and in a good mood. Now, let’s go.”

Others to benefit from the break will be City's Sergio Aguero and Aymeric Laporte, who were overlooked by Argentina and France respectively, while Liverpool's Joel Matip hasn't been involved with Cameroon for some time, and James Milner called time on his England career.

Milner has been another to take the chance to experience warmer weather by jetting to Dubai where he took the opportunity to hit the golf course.

City's John Stones, Fabian Delph, Fernandinho, Kevin De Bruyne and Nicolas Otamendi all missed out on the internationals due to injury, while Vincent Kompany wasn't involved with Belgium.

For Liverpool, Xherdan Shaqiri, Naby Keita and Trent Alexander-Arnold were all absent due to injury.

The last international break in November failed to prove much of a hindrance to either club judging by their results on the following weekend: Liverpool won 3-0 at Watford, and City won 4-0 at West Ham.

Should either slip up this weekend, don't be surprised to hear an excuse or two aimed at time spent on buses, at airports, and on aircraft during the past two weeks - for country rather than club.

Updated: March 27, 2019 03:19 PM

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