The 2022 World Cup is now in the rear-view mirror, with national teams using this week’s international matches to focus on the challenges ahead, including continental qualifiers and the lengthy build-up to the 2026 World Cup in the United States. , Canada and Mexico. .
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For some, it’s a time of change or recovery, while players like Cristiano Ronaldo and harry kane will be chasing records in the days to come. So, with club soccer going on hiatus for international teams to hit the post-World Cup reset button, there are plenty of stories to watch this week.
Ronaldo will break record of appearances
Ronaldo will become the most capped male player in international soccer if he appears in either of Portugal’s Euro 2024 qualifiers against Liechtenstein and Luxembourg. The 38-year-old was level with the Kuwaitis. Badr Al Mutawa in 196 international appearances when he played in Portugal’s World Cup quarterfinal loss against Morocco in Qatar.
There were doubts about Ronaldo’s future with Portugal following the departure of manager Fernando Santos after the World Cup and the player’s move to Saudi Arabia with Al Nassr. However, new manager Roberto Martínez put an end to the speculation by naming Ronaldo in his squad for the upcoming qualifiers. “I don’t look at age,” he said. “Ronaldo is very important for the team.”
Ronaldo already holds the men’s world record for most international goals with 118, and two appearances this week will put him on pace to break the 200-game mark in June qualifiers against Bosnia and Herzegovina and Iceland.
Kane set to upstage Rooney
Kane moved level with Wayne Rooney as England’s all-time leading goalscorer by scoring his 53rd international goal from the penalty spot during their World Cup quarter-final knockout against France.
If the Tottenham Hotspur striker had scored a second penalty in that game instead of sending it over the crossbar, the England goalscoring record would already be absolute for the 29-year-old. Now Kane has games against Italy and Ukraine this week, two good chances to move away from Rooney and become England’s undisputed top scorer.
Gareth Southgate’s side face Italy in Naples in their first Euro 2024 qualifier on Thursday, aiming to avenge their defeat against Roberto Mancini’s side in the Euro 2020 final at Wembley, before receiving to Ukraine in London three days later.
All eyes on Reyna as USMNT begins a new era
John ReynaThe USA’s limited contribution to the World Cup round of 16 was an ongoing topic of debate throughout the tournament, but the full extent of their controversial omission of Gregg Berhalter’s starting XI only became clear in the weeks that followed, with a dispute between coach Berhalter and Reyna’s parents that overshadowed the Borussia Dortmund player’s time in camp.
Reyna’s attitude was questioned during the tournament, and Christian Pulisic he told ESPN that the subsequent controversy between Reynas, Berhalter and the US Soccer Federation has been “childish.”
With Berhalter no longer in charge (though he remains a candidate for the vacant coaching job) and interim coach Anthony Hudson describing Reyna as a “nice guy” after naming him in his squad for CONCACAF Nations League matches against Grenada and El Salvador, all eyes will be on the 20-year-old this week.
This week will be the start of the USMNT’s preparations for 2026, so it will be crucial for Reyna to show that he is fully committed and back in the fold.
More than 1 million want to see Argentina back
When tickets for Argentina’s friendly against Panama in Buenos Aires went on sale, more than 1.5 million fans queued online to buy tickets for the match at River Plate’s Estadio Monumental. The stadium, which hosted the 1978 World Cup final between Argentina and the Netherlands, has a capacity for 83,000 fans, but is clearly not big enough to meet the demand for watching Lionel Messi and his teammates are playing for the first time since they won the World Cup in Qatar in December.
When the Argentine team returned from Qatar, approximately 4 million people lined the streets of Buenos Aires to welcome Lionel Scaloni’s team home. Although the numbers will be less against Panama, the scenes are likely to be just as passionate and colorful.
start of germany das restart Mk II after World Cup failure
Germany coach Hansi Flick said the four-time world champions would “go in a new direction, and very soon” after the team’s second successive elimination from the World Cup group stage in Qatar. The former Bayern Munich coach has been true to his word.
Bayern Munich leroy sane tops the list of big names omitted by Flick from the call for the friendlies against Peru and Belgium. veterans anthony rudiger, Ilkay Gundogan, niklas sule, Marco Reus and Thomas Muller they were also left out.
Flick has chosen to draw on Germany’s emerging talent by giving five players their first call-ups. kevin schade (Brentford), Felix Nmecha (VfL Wolfsburg), Mergim Berisha (FC Augsburg), josha vagnoman (VfB Stuttgart) and mario wolf (Borussia Dortmund) have all been selected for the first time.
With Germany hosting Euro 2024 in just over a year, there is pressure on Flick to make the team competitive enough to win the tournament, so this week’s performances will be closely scrutinized.
What next for Russia?
Russia’s sporting exile since the February 2022 invasion of Ukraine has become a growing topic of debate within the highest levels of sport, with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) preparing to allow Russian athletes to compete. at the 2024 Olympics in Paris. Russian football teams are suspended from all UEFA competitions, while they have been suspended from FIFA competitions until further notice.
Despite the suspensions, Russia remains free to play friendly matches and is due to play Iran in Tehran on Wednesday before facing Iraq in St. Petersburg on Monday.
With the Russian Football Union considering a move from UEFA to the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) due to perceived less hostility towards Russia in Asia, matches against Iran and Iraq may be an important indicator of what will happen next. in the weeks and months ahead.
New look for France
France has to rebuild under Didier Deschamps following withdrawals of 2018 World Cup winners Hugo Lloris and Rafael Varane since the defeat against Argentina in the final in Qatar.
lens keeper brice samba and Chelsea defense Wesley Fofana They were called up for the first time for the Euro 2024 qualifiers against the Netherlands and the Republic of Ireland, although Fofana had to be withdrawn due to a hamstring injury and will be replaced by Jean Clair Todibo from Nice, with the addition of his brother Marcus to the squad. kylian mbappe and Olivier Giroud continue as Deschamps’ first-choice forwards, however, with the coach passing over Karim Benzema after the strong personal criticism of the Real Madrid striker.
New start for new coaches
The World Cup marked the end of the road for many international coaches and the beginning of a new era under their successors.
This week they will see Fernando Santos (Poland), Roberto Martínez (Portugal), ronald koeman (Netherlands), Domenico Tedesco (Belgium) and Luis de la Fuente (Spain) take charge of the first game in their new positions. Anthony Hudson (USA) and Ramon Menezes (Brazil) will take over on an interim basis following the respective departures of Gregg Berhalter and Tite.