The first international break of the 2019/20 campaign is already upon us, and though the early-season club football hiatus hasn’t exactly been greeted with unanimous enthusiasm by supporters, we’re here to convince you that the next 10 days could actually be a lot of fun.
To help you get in the mood for this week’s schedule, we’ve compiled a list of reasons why you should be looking forward to the international break. Check it out below.
Remember – we’ll be covering all the international football extensively in our match preview section!
1) Grudge Games Galore
Football fans have the choice of a series of bitter international rivalries to choose from this week. First up, South American neighbours and historical antagonists Chile and Argentina face-off in the early hours of Friday morning in what should be an explosive “friendly” encounter in Los Angeles.
On Friday evening, Germany host the Netherlands in a European Championship Qualification encounter that pits two traditional, hostile enemies against each other in Hamburg for three crucial Group C points.
On Saturday morning, the United States and Mexico meet in a non-competitive fixture in New Jersey against a backdrop of heightening political tensions between the countries. Have your high total cards predictions and bet-slips at the ready for that one.
2) Uncapped stars of tomorrow
One of the most intriguing facets of international football is watching a promising youngster don his country’s colours at senior level for the first time, and there are plenty of players around who fall into that category this week.
James Maddison, Mason Mount and Aaron Wan-Bissaka will be hoping to make their England bow this week, while Athletic Bilbao’s Unai Núñez and the slightly more experienced PSG midfielder, Pablo Sarabia, will be aiming to feature for Spain for the first time.
Elsewhere, Lille’s Jonathan Ikoné and Arsenal’s Matteo Guendouzi will both be desperate to turn out for France against Albania or Andorra, while Freiburg’s Luca Waldschmidt and Hertha Berlin’s Niklas Stark will be aiming to take their first steps towards regular international football for Germany.
18-year old Anderlecht sensation Yari Verschaeren will want to see minutes for Belgium as will uncapped Brighton summer signing Leandro Trossard.
Wolves’ Diogo Jota should feature for Portugal for the first time against either Serbia or Lithuania, while Cagliari’s Luca Pellegrini and Brescia’s Sandro Tonali have a great chance to pull on the Azzurri blue for Italy against either Armenia or Finland.
3) The potential for goals
The Group Stage for the 2020 UEFA European Championships resumes this week, and having been treated to a glut of goals in the early rounds of qualification fixtures, supporters will be hoping for more of the same over the next seven days.
An average of 3.15 goals were scored across the 100 Group Stage games contested by the various European combatants so far – and this week’s fixture list suggests that another deluge of goals is likely.
On Thursday, Denmark, Norway and Sweden will expect to rack up the goals for Scandinavia against Gibraltar, Malta and the Faroe Islands respectively, while Bosnia-Herzegovina will back themselves to notch more than a couple against Liechtenstein in Zenica.
On Friday, San Marino will hope to keep the score in their match at home to Belgium under double-digits, while Turkey will expect to stuff Andorra 24-hours later in Istanbul.
We publish new both teams to score betting tips with fresh fixtures to choose from every day on our dedicated BTTS page. Make sure to check it out!
4) Can three Home Nations maintain their good starts?
Ahead of the latest round of group matches, three of the five home nations top their respective sections after bright starts to their Euro 2020 qualification campaigns.
While Wales and Scotland have endured mixed starts, England, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland have all come flying out of the traps.
England are sitting pretty on top of Group A, having taken six points from six after two whopping wins against the Czech Republic (5-0) and Montenegro (5-1). Successive home games against Bulgaria and Kosovo should allow Gareth Southgate’s men to add more weight to their recent momentum.
Remarkably, Northern Ireland lead the way in Group C ahead of Germany and Netherlands thanks to their 100% winning start after four matches, though Michael O’Neill’s charges have avoided the section’s big-hitters until now. Northern Ireland play the Germans and the Dutch in their next two qualifiers.
Having amassed 10 points from 12 and remained unbeaten, the Republic of Ireland are looking down on the rest in Group D, though Thursday’s fixture against qualification favourites Switzerland in Dublin already feels like a pivotal, potentially destiny-deciding game.
5) Superstars unite!
As always, the international breaks offer supporters a relatively unique opportunity to see some of the world’s best players unite for their national teams.
Instead of lining up on the opposite sides of the club football dividing line, domestic rivalries are put aside for brief, but exciting periods of international collaboration.
Real Madrid’s Raphael Varane, Barcelona’s Samuel Umtiti, Clement Lenglet, Antoine Griezmann and Atletico Madrid’s Thomas Lemar will put their La Liga differences aside to perform for France, while Premier League London adversaries, Kurt Zouma, Olivier Giroud, Matteo Guendouzi and Hugo Lloris will do the same.
Joe Gomez, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Jordan Henderson, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Harry Maguire, Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rashford will shed their different shades of club red for England’s white.
Eight representatives from Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund will be trying to put their best foot forward for Germany, while Belgium will once again assemble some of the world’s best players from every corner of the continent for their fixtures against San Marino and Scotland.