The football season is well underway and has started like a steam train. But now it’s time for a rest, as the first international break of the calendar comes around.
There may not be any top-flight football next weekend, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t plenty of excitement to come. Here are six games worth keeping an eye on in this international break.
Netherlands vs Greece (Tuesday, September 7, 19:45 BST)
Ronald Koeman’s return to the Netherlands national team hasn’t kicked off as planned. A 3-0 win over Gibraltar in 2024 European Championship qualifying remains his only victory from four games, having been beaten by France, Croatia and Italy.
As for Greece, their qualifying campaign has made a positive start. They have picked up six points from their opening three outings, beating Gibraltar and Republic of Ireland before narrowly losing away to France.
The pair are set to meet at the Philips Stadion in Eindhoven this Tuesday. The hosts will be strong favourites to take the three points, but anything less leaves them in a difficult position in their bid to qualify for the tournament.
Milton Keynes Dons vs Notts County (Saturday, September 9, 15:00 BST)
If international football isn’t your thing, there is still loads to look forward to at club level. In League Two, there is a top-of-the-table clash just around the corner.
Notts County are the division’s early pacesetters. Since their damaging 5-1 defeat on the opening day to Sutton United, they have been near-perfect, picking up 13 points from their last five matches.
Right on their tail are MK Dons, who sit just one point behind them. They have won four from six, and have scored in every game to date..
Both sides have looked good going forward but have struggled defensively. We can expect a goal-fest from this one.
Italy vs Ukraine (Tuesday, September 12, 19:45)
In the last few years, Italy have been one of the most inconsistent teams on the international stage.
They failed to qualify for the World Cup in 2018, then won Euro 2020, then set the longest unbeaten run in the history of international football, then failed to qualify for the World Cup again.
The upcoming European Championships will be an opportunity to get things back on track. If they qualify, that is.
From their opening two, the Azzurri took three points, losing at home to England before defeating Malta. Tuesday’s opponents Ukraine have six points from three, beating Malta and North Macedonia while also falling to defeat against England.
With the Three Lions comfortably top of their group as things stand, these two may be left to scrap for second place. This could be a decisive match.
It will also be a first home game for new Italy boss Luciano Spalletti. The 64-year-old takes over from Roberto Mancini, off the back of an emphatic title win with Napoli last season.
Scotland vs England (Tuesday, September 12, 19:45 BST)
Of the upcoming games, this is perhaps the one with the most spice to it. As the oldest international fixture in the world, the rivalry between the two sides has existed for over a century.
But there is more to this particular game than just tribalism. It’s also a clash between two of the most in-form nations in Europe.
Scotland have made a perfect start to their Euro 2024 qualifying campaign, defeating Cyprus, Spain, Norway and Georgia. Their last defeat came over a year ago in the Nations League.
England also boast a 100% record in qualifying. They have beaten Italy, Ukraine, Malta and North Macedonia, scoring 15 while conceding just one, and have a formidable squad to call upon, minus Raheem Sterling.
Also See: England Men’s Football Kits.
Germany vs France (Tuesday, September 12, 20:00 BST)
If it’s big names you’re after, look no further than Germany versus France. Two of the world’s most successful national teams go head-to-head in a friendly next week, with Germany opting to drop certain players.
Germany‘s World Cup campaign in Qatar didn’t go as planned, and their post-tournament form hasn’t helped silence any doubters. They have just one win from five in 2023, losing against Belgium, Poland and Colombia.
By contrast, France have responded perfectly to their World Cup heartbreak. They have won all four of their qualifiers without conceding a single goal. They will go into this fixture with Lucas Hernandez back in the squad.
Faith in Hansi Flick’s side is quickly deteriorating ahead of next summer’s tournament. A good performance against Les Bleus could help restore some confidence.
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