Tagged: International Football

Plenty To Watch For During the International Break

The final international break of the year has plenty of interesting story lines to look out for. World Cup qualifying will be on the agenda in all confederations and there will be some intriguing friendlies as well.

Some confederations, like CONCACAF, are just getting started but they do so with a bang.

CONCACAF

Mexico vs USA is the big game to start CONCACAF qualification and while it won’t be a death sentence for the loser it will leave an extremely bad taste in the mouth. If that side follows that up with another bad result then panic will set in but we shall see. Mexico, the US and Costa Rica are the favorites to progress but we’ll see what happens when things get started.

AFC

Qualification from Asia seems like a given for certain teams but, as of right now, Japan and South Korea area headed for the playoff where one, and possibly both, may not make it to Russia 2018. Of course, they’re only four games into a 10-game group so there’s plenty of time.

CONMEBOL

Things got really interesting in South American qualifying before the second half of qualifying even began. ESPN FC reported that Bolivia were forced to forfeit two results for fielding an ineligible player. That bumped Chile into the last qualification spot, the playoff one to be fair, with Argentina dropped to six. Brazil and Uruguay are well-placed at the top of the group with Colombia and Ecuador sandwiched between the quartet.

Things will shift even further with some big games in the next round. Colombia v Chile and Brazil v Argentina are the must watch games with both away sides needing a win. Uruguay host Ecuador as well, meaning all the top six play each other so that will be fun. Things don’t get any easier for Argentina as they play Colombia and Chile play Uruguay. (The major thing for Chile especially is Alexis Sanchez possibly missing out due to injury)

OFC

No offense to the Oceanic Federation but it is pretty much New Zealand’s to go through.

AFC

African qualification is pretty much just getting started as well and there are plenty of intriguing possibilities. DR Congo and Tunisia are off to a good start in Group A. In Group B, two of either Nigeria, Cameroon or Algeria will miss out. Ivory Coast are favorites in Group C as are Senegal in Group D while Egypt and Ghana will fight it out in Group D. The rounds will be halfway done by the time the international break is over so we’ll see whats what.

UEFA

There’s still plenty of time for things to change in Europe but there are some interesting games in these next rounds. England v Scotland and France v Sweden, Croatia vs. Iceland and Austria vs. Iceland are among those. Apart from that there are few teams already running against the wind such as the Netherlands, Ukraine, Denmark, Scotland, Wales and Austria. Group D is especially interesting with Serbia, the Republic of Ireland, Wales and Austria all fighting it out.

Euro 2016 contenders how France Germany Spain are prepping – ESPN FC

Euro 2016 contenders how France Germany Spain are prepping – ESPN FC

I think Italy, England, Portugal and Croatia are more dark horses than contenders. Too much issues with all of those sides. Italy don’t convince, Portugal are too Ronaldo-dependent, Croatia hasn’t put it all together and England have a lot less experience than usual. Still interesting to see how they all do during this break.

10 Best International Games To Watch During The Break – RantSports

10 Best International Games To Watch During The Break – RantSports

 My piece for RantSports on some interesting international matches we have in store. They are numbered but not in any particular order of importance or anything.
 
Romelu Lukaku
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International football is on display in the next few days with some good games in store. Qualification for Euro 2016 is coming down to the business end and it’s all or nothing for some teams. There are also some high-profile friendlies worth a watch. Here are the 10 best International games to watch during the break.

10. United States vs. Brazil

Brazil vs United States
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The USA set up a very tough test for themselves against Brazil. Neymar made his mark against the USA at the beginning of his international career and will be the highlight of the show. It will be interesting to see which version of these teams show up after some other solid friendlies.

9. Netherlands vs. Iceland

Netherlands v Argentina: Semi Final - 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil
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Netherlands can’t afford to fall any further behind in qualification. A loss to Iceland put them in this rocky position and nothing but three points will do. Czech Republic are ahead of them with two very winnable games, and Turkey behind them should get a win in their first. The Netherlands going for the win should make this fun to watch.

8. Turkey vs. Netherlands

Turkey v Netherlands - FIFA 2014 World Cup Qualifier
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Turkey and Netherlands have been disappointing in qualification so far. They sit fourth and third in the group, though that may change after the first set of games. However those pan out will have an effect on this game, but a loss for either side could mean the chance to qualify for Euro 2016 is lost.

7. Germany vs. Poland

EURO 2016 qualifying match - Poland v Scotland
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Poland handed Germany their first loss in qualifying for quite some time. That means the Poles lead the group by one point with both teams having played six games. The World Cup champions are in transition but still have arguably the best team in the world. Automatic qualification is again key here.

6. France vs. Portugal

Argentina v Portugal - International Friendly
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It’s not all about qualifying, though. France, the hosts of Euro 2016, have played a number of high-profile friendlies. Portugal are still finding their way with new manager, Fernando Santos. Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema, Antoine Griezmann and Nani are just some players on display. It should be a good game.

5. France vs. Serbia

France national team
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This is another high-profile friendly for France against solid opposition. Serbia have had a horrific qualification campaign and won’t be at Euro 2016. This still a good test for the French though, and it will be interesting to see where the hosts are. It may be a chance for certain French players to stake a claim for a starting spot.

4. Argentina vs. Mexico

Argentina National Team
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Mexico’s second game under new coach, Ricardo Ferretti, will be a good one. Argentina are still stinging from the loss in the 2015 Copa America final. Mexico have to prepare for the CONCACAF playoff against the USA. There should be plenty of good football on display with Lionel Messi and company on the pitch.

3. Belgium vs. Bosnia and Herzegovina

Belgium National team
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Belgium and Bosnia and Herzegovina have plenty to play for when they meet. Wales can ensure themselves automatic qualification as the top team in the group, so a place in the playoffs meaning one of these sides could miss out on the tournament altogether. Both sides have plenty of talent and are looking to progress from the 2014 World Cup.

2. Spain vs. Slovakia

Spain v Costa Rica - International Friendly
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Spain sit three points behind Slovakia in qualifying. Why is that? They were beaten by this group in one of their first games. Spain aren’t the mighty side they once were but still have plenty of talent available. Slovakia have a solid side though, and don’t need to push for a win. That should make this game interesting.

1. Brazil vs. Costa Rica

Costa Rica National Team
Getty Images

Costa Rica will hope to continue their ascent as a CONCACAF powerhouse with a win over Brazil. Anytime the Brazilians are on display is cause for intrigue. There’s nothing at stake in this match, but that may make it even more interesting as the sides experiment.

From Africa Cup triumph to the depths of despair: how Nigeria unravelled | Football | The Guardian

From Africa Cup triumph to the depths of despair: how Nigeria unravelled | Football | The Guardian.

Ah, football in Africa. Always fun. I’m surprised Keshi lasted this long and a sacking was inevitable, especially after failing to get to the 2015 African Cup of Nations.

Podolski Klose Crouch country and club form Michael Cox – ESPN FC

Podolski Klose Crouch country and club form Michael Cox – ESPN FC.

I think all the forwards mentioned are a bit better for their clubs than the author states but I get the premise. Also, Andres Iniesta is not better for Spain than Barcelona. Pretty equal with both.

Overall, I get it though. I still think club form is important but sometimes it just makes sense to bring in players who always seem to perform internationally regardless of their club form.

Switching nationalities like Diego Costa should reflect the spirit of international football Gab Marcotti – ESPN FC

Switching nationalities like Diego Costa should reflect the spirit of international football Gab Marcotti – ESPN FC.

Very interesting read.

While Roberto Mancini has the simple solution with the whole play where you’re born deal, it really isn’t that simple. If a player is legitimately eligible for two countries by whatever means  then they should be able to play for the one they choose. It may be tough to discern if it’s for their own personal goals, as the author brings up a good point with Mauro Cameronesi(though I find it really hard to believe that he couldn’t have made it into the Argentina team at some point) but they certainly can’t be forced into an option they may not prefer.

It’s becoming such a common thing nowadays that it’s really not a big issue, I think so at least, but it does become a big talking point when stars like Diego Costa make the turn. I bet you if he had made the switch earlier in his career, provided he had moved to Atletico Madrid earlier, or wasn’t as good when he made the switch then it wouldn’t have been a big issue. Brazil’s reactions were a bit ridiculous as well considering the plethora of players who have missed the boat in putting on the famous yellow shirt over the years but have played international football elsewhere. Marcos Senna anyone?

Until next time.

Best games to watch during the international break – HoundSports – HoundSports

Best games to watch during the international break – HoundSports – HoundSports.

My piece for Houndsports on the international break. Should be fun. Going to watch the replay of France vs. Brazil in a bit. Hope it was good.

Local pride at stake as Catalonia take on the Basque Country in friendly – ESPN FC

Local pride at stake as Catalonia take on the Basque Country in friendly – ESPN FC.

Just a random bit of World Football News. Both these regions in Spain have developed fantastic footballers throughout the years. Not a meaningful, or official, game in terms of the FIFA calendar but an interesting one nonetheless.

FA launches England DNA blueprint for elite player development | Football | The Guardian

FA launches England DNA blueprint for elite player development | Football | The Guardian.

And then they’ll conquer the world. Well, maybe. I love the first line of the article.

“England plan to unleash a squad of thoughtful footballing RoboCops, capable of enforcing their will and skill despite anything the rest of the world can throw at them.”

It’s an interesting project but one that, as stated, needs the cooperation of the clubs. We know Arsene Wenger’s on board given the growing number of English players in the Arsenal side.

I think the author’s also poking a bit of fun at the fact that the FA states this project isn’t really copying any recent models in terms of how they want to cultivate the youngsters etc. If he’s not, then I am. Sorry. At this point, any nation trying to build from the youth up is copying someone’s recent model. Spanish, German, Dutch doesn’t matter.

What matters is you’re doing it. We’ll see how it works out, I guess.