International Break Game Thread (September 19-27)

Zososoxfan

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Lots going on over the next week, as most international sides are playing 2 matches in the run-up to the WC--many within the US! I'll be at the Argentina-Honduras match in Miami on Friday. Vamos Argentina carajo!!

Normally I'd list all the matches, but there's a lot. There are African and Asian sides playing today, in addition to a Scotland-Ukraine UEFA Nations League tie. Tomorrow the Nations League really cranks up, and thereafter there's a slew of games on most days thru the end of the break. Take the piss here for all the matches!
 

Zososoxfan

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Argentina's call ups for the break below (starters and key rotation pieces in bold):

Keepers
Franco Armani (River Plate)
Emiliano Martínez (Aston Villa)
Gerónimo Rulli (Villarreal)

Defenders
Gonzalo Montiel (Sevilla)
Nahuel Molina (Udinese)

Germán Pezzella (Real Betis)
Cristian Romero (Tottenham Hotspur)
Nehuén Pérez (Udinese)
Lisandro Martínez (Manchester United)
Nicolás Otamendi (Benfica)
Marcos Acuña (Sevilla)

Facundo Medina (Lens)
Nicolás Tagliafico (Lyon)

Mids
Leandro Paredes (Juventus)
Guido Rodríguez (Real Betis)

Enzo Fernández (Benfica)
Alexis Mac Allister (Brighton)
Rodrigo De Paul (Atletico Madrid)
Giovani Lo Celso (Villarreal)
Alejandro Papu Gómez (Sevilla)

Thiago Almada (Atlanta United)

Forwards
Paulo Dybala (AS Roma)
Ángel Di María (Juventus)
Lionel Messi (Paris Saint-Germain)

Julián Álvarez (Manchester City)
Joaquín Correa (Inter)
Ángel Correa (Atletico Madrid)
Lautaro Martínez (Inter)
Nicolás González (Fiorentina)


Storylines
1. Who's Romero's CB partner?? Scaloni has preferred Otamendi recently, but if Argentina play a high defensive line as expected, Ota's a real liability. I also just question if he has the athleticism left to keep up with even medium quality attackers. Gotta respect the fact that he's still playing big minutes for Benfica though, who's leading Liga NoS. The emergence of Lisandro Martinez at MAN U, Perez at Udinese, and even Medina at Lens gives Scaloni lots of good options. What a swing from recent years! The other interesting piece here is that Romero, Perez, and Medina all play in 3ATB systems, and even better still Medina plays LCB, Perez plays CCB, and Romero plays RCB for their clubs. So if Scaloni wants to go 3-4-3 or 3-5-2 he's got the defenders for it. Even Pezzella is still playing big minutes for a terrific Betis squad.

2. Is Dybala Going to Play? Frankly, it's baffling and yet a good sign that Dybala just hasn't cracked the XI or even the rotation really in the past 2 years. Dybala's a world class talent as he's showing this season at Roma, but he's also a true #10 in a sport that's really moved away from that role. La Scaloneta is a true system (built around Messi in a free role of course) but La Joya doesn't really fit into any of those spots. Scaloni has the squad well-drilled enough already that perhaps he can start working a second system that doesn't have Messi in it (the man's gotta rest and he's going to retire from the Albiceleste eventually, right?) and Dybala's good enough that maybe he builds it around a Lautaro-Dybala pairing. That sounds A-OK to me!

3. Are We Going to See a Change in the MF? I've thought that Paredes-De Paul-GLC were set in stone starters, but man the strength of the squad puts that to doubt. Paredes is getting PT at Juve, but Juve aren't good and there's a lot central mids there (hi Weston!). De Paul is getting minutes at Atleti but they're underperforming. GLC's playing good (not great) minutes at Villarreal who sit 5th.

Meanwhile, Alexis Mac Allister has been a big part of Brighton's surge to 4th place in the EPL, Enzo Fernandez is playing big minutes at 1st place Benfica at 21 years old, and Guido Rodriguez leads Betis in minutes for the team running third behind Barca-Real in Spain. I mean, that's a lot of effing talent. It's probably helpful to think about Argentina's MF in terms of DMFs, AMFs, and specialists (looking at you Paredes), since Mac Allister really doesn't have much in commo with Rodriguez. In sum, I think we'll see lots of players get minutes, and potentially we'll see both single-pivot and double-pivot systems.

4. Who are the best FBs? Argentina is stacked at both positions here as well, and I suspect there's no clear cut best FBs but rather better wing defenders vs. better attackers. On the left Tagliafico might be a slightly better defender than Acuna, but el Huevo (favorite nickname ever) gets forward and is surprisingly good in the middle and final third. On the right, it's likely Montiel or Molina, with Molina likely a nose ahead based on playing time. Then again, that's also primarily due to squad composition. Maybe Gazza's resident La Liga experts @rguilmar and @bosox4283 can shed some light on these guys.

5. Do Any of the Young Forwards Assert Themselves? Lautaro is the MF truth, Messi is Messi, and Di Maria is still usually the best choice at the other forward slot. Papu Gomez continues to be the fucking man, and he can play anywhere and is one of the most fluid players I've seen in the modern game. Moreover, he's a proven finisher which always takes on added importance in the int'l game when chances are usually fewer.

But despite all the talent of A Correa, J Correa, and Alvarez, they're all buried behind bigtime players at megaclubs. But even last year when they were getting a bit more PT, they were all behind Nico Gonzalez in the pecking order. But even Nico hasn't played much this season yet. My best guess is that Joaquin and Alvarez will both get some time to audition for the backup CF spot, and they're such different players that I could see an argument that it's not a direct comparison, but as they say in college football it's getting late early for Joaquin and this is likely his peak for the NT.

6. What Does X Have to Do to Make the Squad?!?? Despite how good the squad is, it's remarkable how many good players didn't even make it:

Lucas Martinez-Quarta (Fiorentina)
Juan Foyth (Villarreal)
Exequiel Palacios (Leverkusen) (TBF he's injured ATM)
Nico Dominguez (Bologna)
Lucas Ocampos (Ajax)
Emi Buendia (Aston Villa)
Gio Simeone (Napoli)

Dayum.
 

rguilmar

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.4. Who are the best FBs? Argentina is stacked at both positions here as well, and I suspect there's no clear cut best FBs but rather better wing defenders vs. better attackers. On the left Tagliafico might be a slightly better defender than Acuna, but el Huevo (favorite nickname ever) gets forward and is surprisingly good in the middle and final third. On the right, it's likely Montiel or Molina, with Molina likely a nose ahead based on playing time. Then again, that's also primarily due to squad composition. Maybe Gazza's resident La Liga experts @rguilmar and @bosox4283 can shed some light on these guys.
I’ll do my best to not answer your question by saying that it depends. To me, both Molina and Montiel are better at attacking than defending, and the imperfect advanced metrics back that up. But they have different strengths in the attack. Montiel is better at advancing the ball with line breaking passes. Molina is a better dribbler and can score. All things being equal, Molina is probably better at breaking down a low block and Montiel is probably better at getting the ball forward passing to the attackers. It’s possible that Argentina picks their RB based on opponents. This isn’t taking into account the rapport each fullback has with the CBs and wingers.

Argentina is stacked. I know Brazil is a popular pick to win it at all, but I’m liking the albicelestes quite a bit.
 

InstaFace

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Hey, enough about Argentina, any Americans here? Cause we got a smorgasbord.

View: https://twitter.com/burgermeister73/status/1570924235270520832?s=21&t=kd4YIVgTb9L2NXWdXj9mIw


Highlights: FalseFullback. Streaming h/t to the sickos over at BS, who found streaming for U17s, U19s, and U20s. U17s are playing in a U18 tournament, but brought the big guns including the two La Masia boys: CM Adrian Gill and GK Diego Kochen.

Today: USA U-17s vs Slovakia U-18s (Vaclav Jezek Tournament) (L, 0-1)
Today: USA U-19s vs Malta U-19s (Slovania Nations Cup) (W 5-0)
Today: USA U-20s vs Peru U-20s (W, 3-1, full video)

The U20 USA-Mexico match is on Saturday, and that will be fun. Not least because our U20 team is awesome, and theirs is... not.
 

Zososoxfan

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I’ll do my best to not answer your question by saying that it depends. To me, both Molina and Montiel are better at attacking than defending, and the imperfect advanced metrics back that up. But they have different strengths in the attack. Montiel is better at advancing the ball with line breaking passes. Molina is a better dribbler and can score. All things being equal, Molina is probably better at breaking down a low block and Montiel is probably better at getting the ball forward passing to the attackers. It’s possible that Argentina picks their RB based on opponents. This isn’t taking into account the rapport each fullback has with the CBs and wingers.

Argentina is stacked. I know Brazil is a popular pick to win it at all, but I’m liking the albicelestes quite a bit.
This is awesome, thanks. Where did you look up these stats?

Hey, enough about Argentina, any Americans here? Cause we got a smorgasbord.

[snip]
YOU WILL READ MY RAMBLING THOUGHTS ON ARGENTINA AND YOU WILL LIKE IT!

JK, hoping for a good showing from the USMNT as well. This round of friendlies will be hugely telling for WC performance IMO. I'm going to try and do a before/after x-nat'l window analysis of WC betting odds:

https://www.vegasinsider.com/soccer/odds/world-cup/

  • Going from the bottom up, I'm pretty shocked that Iran is that low (amirite @PedroSpecialK ) . I'd have them right after Ghana.
  • Canada seems low.
  • USA seems about right.
  • From Belgium up, it looks like odds have these as potential winners. Denmark is interesting since they fit halfway between the contenders and Croatia/Uruguay which seem like outside potential finalists, but not winner odds. After that odds start shooting up in big chunks.
Now, I don't know what those odds mean in terms of expected probabilities, but I slightly disagree with the order and think there's clearly 2 tiers with a top 6 and following 3.

Right at this moment, I put Brazil, England, Argentina, France, Germany, and Holland as the top 6 with not much between them. Elite top to bottom talent all over the pitch, and cohesive play for the most part. Looking at [somewhat] recent performances, France's crash out of Euro 2020 was a big upset, and any time they lose it's an upset. England need Dier or someone else to step up as the CB partner for Stones. Perhaps England's conservatism will allow for Maguire to step in but ooof tough to trust a player who's confidence has to be shredded at this point. If they play conservatively though, it leaves them vulnerable to draws and close losses. Brazil might be a CB short--Marquinhos is a bawse, but I'm not buying Militao stock and don't know if any of the other younger players like Bremer or Ibanez are ready for prime time. Germany should be a load and I expect that they'll have become more cohesive since Flick took over. I also really like the Dutch squad, although VVD's slip in form does take them down a notch from where they were a short time ago. But if it turns out de Ligt and de Vrij are their starting CBs I think that's good enough to go the distance.

Spain, Portugal, and Belgium are all very good sides that should make it the QFs at least, and certainly have the ability to go farther and even win it all. But Spain don't have a striker or forward who's an elite finisher, Portugal are short a CB or 2, and Belgium's CBs are both too old (Toby and Jan) and too young (Faes, Theate) to carry them the distance when the competition gets stiff.
 

InstaFace

MDLzera
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YOU WILL READ MY RAMBLING THOUGHTS ON ARGENTINA AND YOU WILL LIKE IT!
Well, you're half right :D

USA at +10000 is free money for the casinos. I might take those odds (i.e. 100-to-1 shot at having a few miracle games come together with a fully healthy roster) for 2026 on home turf, but we're definitely a cycle too early. If we make the R16 I will be very happy with the tournament.

The only number I see that strikes me as way too low is Uruguay. They somehow get an amazing roster out of a country with a population under 3.5M. There's no way there's less than a 50-to-1 chance that they put together a great run. I'd give it somewhere between 20-30 to 1. And yeah, maybe Iran is underrated relative to the rest of the "absolutely no shot" countries, but it's hard to get worked up about 750 vs 300 vs 100 imo.
 

67YAZ

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If they have to choose between Mbappe and Pogba, we’ll that’s not really a choice is it?
 

rguilmar

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This is awesome, thanks. Where did you look up these stats?
Usually some combo of free stuff. FBREF, Fotmob, SofaScore. FBREF will have their comparisons broken down by position (for example rankings among fullbacks) where SofaScore compares field players across positions, so fullback will likely rank below average in attack but actually be a good attacker for a FB because their stats are compared to wingers and strikers.

Whatever the case, most of these stats ultimately rely on basic counting stats and percentages (tackles, percent of tackles won and so on) so they are imperfect to say the least.
 

CodPiece XL

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England look awful. Just got relegated in the Nations League, which I didn’t know was a thing.
This is what happens when you don't get to play all your games at Wembley.

The Nations League is convoluted as hell. I'm not sure I understand it myself. The winners of the groups are guaranteed a playoff spot to qualify for Euros 2024, that draw takes place next month. Trying to think of an analogy... maybe something like making spring training meaningful in some way so that the winners of Cactus and Grapefruit leagues are guaranteed a wild card playoff spot before the season even starts. Lousy analogy but all I can think of.

I believe that now England will lose the benefit of being a country with #1 seeding when the draw is made next month. 54 teams enter the draw with various seeding. Only 24 qualify, Germany is automatic as hosts. 20 spots decided winners and runners up of 10 qualifying groups. 3 spots determined by the aforementioned playoffs ( Nations league). So basically, the play off teams will be the teams that performed best in Nations League who did not qualify via the main qualifying tournament once played. Teams are seeded based on the UEFA Nations League rankings. 6 groups of 5, and 4 groups of 6. The final 4 participants of the Nations league will be in groups of 5 so they only play 8 games, thus leaving time to play the Nations league final games next June. My head is starting to hurt thinking about this. I mean what happens if you win the normal play off tournament by conventional means but you also qualified via the Nations League play off?

Of course I may be wrong....and happy to be corrected. But that's my understanding.

Today I have a personal interest, Scotland play Ireland. Scotland beat Ukraine on Wednesday by 3:0 and totally outclassed them; should have been at least 5 goals but Scotland missed some real sitters. ( where was this high press, high energy when they played them in June for the world cup playoffs). Ugh. Currently Scotland lead the group with games against Ireland and Ukraine left so they have their destiny in their own hands. So if Scotland win the group, they would be in sudden death playoffs next June.

FYI, I was trying to find a stream for the game and apparently it's on Fubo Sports Network. So I went rooting around on that website and various apps carry Fubo Sports Network for free. Something called Tubi has it. So I downloaded Tubi on my Apple TV and should be able to watch the game on a non-dodgy stream.
 

OCST

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This is what happens when you don't get to play all your games at Wembley.

The Nations League is convoluted as hell. I'm not sure I understand it myself. The winners of the groups are guaranteed a playoff spot to qualify for Euros 2024, that draw takes place next month. Trying to think of an analogy... maybe something like making spring training meaningful in some way so that the winners of Cactus and Grapefruit leagues are guaranteed a wild card playoff spot before the season even starts. Lousy analogy but all I can think of.

I believe that now England will lose the benefit of being a country with #1 seeding when the draw is made next month. 54 teams enter the draw with various seeding. Only 24 qualify, Germany is automatic as hosts. 20 spots decided winners and runners up of 10 qualifying groups. 3 spots determined by the aforementioned playoffs ( Nations league). So basically, the play off teams will be the teams that performed best in Nations League who did not qualify via the main qualifying tournament once played. Teams are seeded based on the UEFA Nations League rankings. 6 groups of 5, and 4 groups of 6. The final 4 participants of the Nations league will be in groups of 5 so they only play 8 games, thus leaving time to play the Nations league final games next June. My head is starting to hurt thinking about this. I mean what happens if you win the normal play off tournament by conventional means but you also qualified via the Nations League play off?

Of course I may be wrong....and happy to be corrected. But that's my understanding.

Today I have a personal interest, Scotland play Ireland. Scotland beat Ukraine on Wednesday by 3:0 and totally outclassed them; should have been at least 5 goals but Scotland missed some real sitters. ( where was this high press, high energy when they played them in June for the world cup playoffs). Ugh. Currently Scotland lead the group with games against Ireland and Ukraine left so they have their destiny in their own hands. So if Scotland win the group, they would be in sudden death playoffs next June.

FYI, I was trying to find a stream for the game and apparently it's on Fubo Sports Network. So I went rooting around on that website and various apps carry Fubo Sports Network for free. Something called Tubi has it. So I downloaded Tubi on my Apple TV and should be able to watch the game on a non-dodgy stream.
As an Everton fan I'm gutted that Nathan Patterson got hurt. He's going to be a superstar.
 
England look awful. Just got relegated in the Nations League, which I didn’t know was a thing.
The Nations League is convoluted as hell. I'm not sure I understand it myself. The winners of the groups are guaranteed a playoff spot to qualify for Euros 2024, that draw takes place next month. Trying to think of an analogy... maybe something like making spring training meaningful in some way so that the winners of Cactus and Grapefruit leagues are guaranteed a wild card playoff spot before the season even starts. Lousy analogy but all I can think of.
The Nations League is a great idea (IMHO), primarily designed to get rid of meaningless international windows and friendly matches - which were highly prestigious in their own right 30 or 40 years ago but which increasingly lacked purpose in what is now a club-driven football calendar - and replace them with some sort of structure. Little countries can now hope to qualify for big tournaments like Euro 2024 via the Nations League, and big countries play against each other in matches which at least have a whiff of relevance about them. That's basically it, but it is something.
 

tmracht

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Still no word on how serious the injury is as far as I can tell. Although Aaron Hickey did come on and had a good game. Suddenly Scotland have a glut of full backs.
Scottish Express sports saying not serious injury though not sure the quality of their sourcing.
 

fletcherpost

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As an Everton fan I'm gutted that Nathan Patterson got hurt. He's going to be a superstar.
I was gutted too mate. He was playing well for Everton of late.

Scotland just beat Ireland 2-1, so a point v Ukraine and we top the group. Tierney went off just before half time, i hope he's okay.
 

CodPiece XL

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I was gutted too mate. He was playing well for Everton of late.

Scotland just beat Ireland 2-1, so a point v Ukraine and we top the group. Tierney went off just before half time, i hope he's okay.
I think it was a head knock. How many fingers am I holding up? 27. Ok..you’re off mate. Not to minimize that, but it’s not like a leg injury etc.
 

fletcherpost

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I think it was a head knock. How many fingers am I holding up? 27. Ok..you’re off mate. Not to minimize that, but it’s not like a leg injury etc.
Yeah i saw a clip of Clarke's post match presser and he confirmed it's nothing major. We seem to have some depth on the flanks.