After three weeks of English Premier League action and the rest of Europe just getting underway we’ve all started to get back in to the normal routine of getting up early on the weekends and enjoying a match or two.
However, that comes to an abrupt end this week, as international soccer takes center stage for friendlies and various championship qualification rounds throughout the world. Headlining it all is the start of Euro 2016 qualification across the continent.
Since the international game is our bread and butter, let’s take a look at the top 10 games of this international break.
Top 10 International Games This Week:
10. Belgium vs. Australia (Sept. 4):
Belgium and Australia are two intriguing squads for Euro 2016, and while this is just a friendly between the two national teams it still will be a good test for each squad. It’s also important for both to figure out what went wrong in disappointing 2014 World Cup campaigns.
The Red Devils are fielding a very strong squad for the match in Liege, with captain Vincent Kompany, Jan Vertonghen, Kevin De Bruyne, Adnan Januzaj and Thibaut Courtois all included in the side.
If you want to see quality soccer played, this could be a good one to tune in to (legally of course).
9. Germany vs. Argentina (Sept. 3): Who would’ve thought we’d see a rematch of the World Cup final so soon? These to managed to get a deal done quickly following said final and Argentina will get a chance from some revenge. However, this is a vastly different scenario and two very different teams that will take the field for this friendly in Dusseldorf.
There’s no Messi, multiple members of the German squad that won in Brazil have retired and Angel Di Maria (and others) simply seem disinterested in the rematch.
Having said that, both teams will look towards the future of their programs in this matchup. Even if some of the biggest stars won’t be there on Wednesday, this game will still be fun and telling for where the potential lies for two of international soccer’s big boys.
8. Japan vs. Uruguay (Sept. 5):
True life without Luis Suarez begins for Uruguay as they take on Japan in a pretty good friendly matchup. Anytime you get two teams from the last World Cup getting together you’ve got some good action likely to happen.
Fans of the international game will want to tune in to this one, as both teams are fielding some very experienced squads. Both Diego Forlan and Edinson Cavani are like to start up front, while other big names dot Uruguay’s roster. The same can be said of Japan.
This could be a real treat for a friendly coming off the World Cup, as most teams look to these events to transition to a new era. It won’t be the case when Japan and Uruguay tussle on Friday though.
7. Italy vs. Netherlands (Sept. 4):
While most European squads are looking to transition and experiment with their squads in these international friendlies, that’s not the case for the Netherlands or Italy. That’s because the Dutch take on Czech Republic in a Euro 2016 qualifier five days later and Italy take on Norway too.
Italy is also intriguing because it’s a completely new era for the Italian national team setup. The Azzurri are now under the leadership of Antonio Conte and that means a lot of new things happening around the squad.
There will be no Mario Balotelli for Italy and there are major changes in the makeup of training and just about everything else associated with the squad.
6. Germany vs. Scotland (Sept. 7):
Welcome to Group D of Euro 2016 qualification. Germany should be the overwhelming favorites to win this group, and it’s part of the reason some of its biggest stars are sitting this international break out. However, this game is huge for Scotland.
Beyond Germany, the other automatic qualifying spot for a trip to France in 2016 is wide open. Scotland is in a group with the Republic of Ireland and Poland as potential candidates to get that other spot. Catching a Germany side that isn’t at full strength and getting any point off this match would be huge to the hopes of the Tartan Army.