With club football on hold, our attention turns to the international stage where there is plenty at stake with nations looking ahead as preparations for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, as well as other major events upcoming across the globe.
England v Switzerland (Saturday)
Preparations continue for Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions as England does battle with Switzerland in an international friendly. The hosts have gone with a fairly young squad, although it seems that form is the logic used behind selecting some players with Aaron Ramsdale, Ben White, and Tyrick Mitchell all likely to feature. The last four meetings between the two nations have seen a total of five goals with England scoring all, keeping their impressive defensive record intact against the Swiss.
Croatia v Slovenia (Saturday)
Croatia will be looking to go into the Nations League in June in impressive form and will be using their doubleheader against Slovenia and Bulgaria as preparations ahead of the tournament. Up first is Slovenia, where the Croatians will be without Sime Vrsaljko and Inter Milan midfielder Marcelo Brozovic, who have both been in excellent form this term. They do, however, have the never-aging Luka Modric in midfield, as well as Chelsea star Mateo Kovacic.
Ireland v Belgium (Saturday)
The Republic of Ireland have a stern test against the world’s number 1 ranked nation in the world, Belgium, up next. Ireland will be looking to stretch their unbeaten run to seven matches but know that they face a daunting task against the likes of Youri Tielemans and co. Belgium have left Thibaut Courtois, Kevin De Bruyne, Yannick Carrasco, Eden Hazard, Dries Mertens, and Romelu Lukaku out of the squad, affording an opportunity to their next generation of players coming through.
Netherlands v Denmark (Saturday)
Goals are expected when Netherlands takes on Denmark this Saturday. Kasper Schmeichel has been in decent form this season but will be without Denmark’s two first-choice center-backs in front of him with both Simon Kjaer and Andreas Christensen out injured. They do, however, have Christian Eriksen back in the fold for the first time since collapsing at Euro 2020, nine months later.
Qatar v Bulgaria (Saturday)
This year’s FIFA World Cup hosts, Qatar, have been impressed in their preparations thus far. Despite hosting the tournament later this year, Qatar still had to go through the qualifying stages where they won seven and drew one of their eight matches played. Bulgaria failed to qualify for this year’s showpiece.
Finland v Iceland (Saturday)
Finland were unfortunate to miss out on a place in the playoffs in the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers, finishing one point behind Ukraine in Group D. They were impressive in that period, but now come into Saturday’s encounter with just one win from their last eight home ties. Iceland, on the other hand, are on a four-match winless run.
Spain v Albania (Saturday)
Spain seeks a third successive victory across all competitions when they face Albania on Saturday. This type of fixture will also benefit La Roja, playing against Albania’s 3-5-2 defensive formation, meaning the visitors will likely sit back, affording Spain to push high up the pitch and attack in numbers. Luis Enrique is coaching a fine group of young talent with plenty of paces in the attack.
Germany v Israel (Saturday)
There are no easy international friendlies with this being the perfect time for players to sell themselves and prove why they deserve to be in the World Cup squad. Germany were disappointing in their last World Cup and they know with better preparation means a better tournament. The Germans are looking to make it eight straight victories, while Israel’s 3-4-3 will open up space for the likes of Leroy Sane and Timo Werner.