It has certainly been an interesting break for Juventus’ international contingent who were all in action at the senior and junior levels for their respective nations. A couple of established names continued to show their worth while at least one unheralded player also announced their arrival at the biggest stage as the European nations played in Euro 2024 qualifiers with most other federations continuing their World Cup qualifiers.
Federico Chiesa played a key role for Italy, as the Azzurri finally broke their ignominious run with qualifiers and barely held on to second place in their qualifying group to make it into the pot for the Euro 2024 draw, albeit in Pot 4 which means they could face some very difficult opponents in the group stages next summer in Germany.
The Juve wide man was the driving force and bagged a brace in a thumping 5-2 win over North Macedonia, before helping Italy hold its nerve in a scoreless draw against Ukraine to ensure qualification at the visitors’ expense, with Moise Kean replacing him in the second half. Federico Gatti and Andrea Cambiaso were part of the squad but didn’t feature in the second game, though the former did play in the previous game, coming close to opening the scoring in the first half from a corner.
Serbia also marked a historic occasion by qualifying for the same tournament for the first time since gaining sovereignty, with Filip Kostic starting the 2-2 draw against Bulgaria and striker Dusan Vlahovic coming on as a late sub.
Midfielder Adrien Rabiot got his name on the scoresheet in a lopsided win for France as they hammered Gibraltar 14-0, before finally seeing their 100% record halted with a 2-2 draw against Greece.
Brazil’s woes continued as they made it four games in a row now without a win, and an almost unheard of three straight defeats, with a 2-1 loss against Colombia followed by a 1-0 reverse against World Cup champions Argentina. Gleison Bremer was an unused sub in both games, and should be in good shape for the big Derby d’Italia game upcoming this weekend.
Wojciech Szczesny started in goal for Poland in the Euro qualifying draw against Czechia, and there was little the Juve stopper could do to prevent an unmarked Tomas Soucek from slamming home a second half equalizer. The Poles finished Group E and now go into a convoluted qualifier process to see if they can still make it to Germany in the summer.
Youngster Kenan Yilidiz marked his first ever start for the Turkey with a fantastic strike in a big 3-2 friendly win over Germany. He was unable to replicate his heroics in the second game of the break when his side took on Wales in the Euro qualifiers. A 1-1 draw secured top spot in Group D with Yildiz coming on at the hour mark.
Samuel Iling-Junior did not see the pitch in England Under-21’s 1-0 win over Serbia in their U-21 Euro qualifier, but was a second half sub in the 3-0 win over Northern Ireland.