It’s that time again…international friendlies
With all of 35,000 fans expected at Wembley this Wednesday (03/09) it’s obvious the nation can’t wait to welcome home our stars of the 2014 Brazil World Cup. Wembley won’t even be half full, and ex-Liverpool and England manager Hodgson has already had to come out and back the friendly against Norway.
This will be Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney’s first match as England captain, and he could well be alongside a few debutants. Rooney is by far the most experienced player in a very young England squad, with Manchester City’s James Milner the 2nd – although he can barely get a game at domestic level.
The 2016 European Championship could well be Hodgson’s last attempt at International glory, with his contract ending shortly after. The first qualifier is 5 days after the friendly, seeing the Three Lions take on Switzerland. Although England are expected to comfortably qualify, national expectation is at one of its lowest points, with many supporters being surprised if England make it to the knockout rounds.
More fans turned out for Germany’s open training session on Monday than are expected for England’s upcoming games – showing how big the gap is in national pride at present.
After Germany became the first European team to win a tournament is South America, Argentina will be looking for revenge. Both teams will have an array of talent missing, mainly due to injury or retirement, including Barcelona’s Lionel Messi and Bayern Munich duo Philipp Lahm and Miroslav Klose.
After Spain’s dramatic failure at Brazil 2014 they will be looking to rebuild, and establish a new core of key players, who they hope will be able to take them back to the summit of International football.
Spain’s opponents will be France, with the game taking place in the Stade de France. This should be a good test for both teams, as they both start preparing for Euro 2016.
Both Italy and the Netherlands have new coaches, with this friendly being their first chance to assess their squads. With Van Gaal leaving for Manchester United, Guus Hiddink is back for his second spell in charge of third place Netherlands. Italy had a disappointing World Cup, dropping out at the group stage, so new coach Antonio Conte has a big job on his hands.
The Dutch will be without some of their biggest names due to injury with players such as Robben (FC Bayern Munich), Huntelaar (FC Schalke 04), van der Vaart (Hamburger SV) and Vlaar (Aston Villa) missing out.
New Liverpool player Balotelli will also miss the match after not being picked by his new international manager.
Anyway, and I’m sure the majority of you will agree, let’s get this international break out of the way as quickly as possible so the excitement of the domestic leagues can continue.