The first international break of the season is in full flow and we take a look at how Chelsea’s representatives have got on after the first of two rounds of fixtures. A number of the players have been competing in the newly formed UEFA Nations League, which has been designed to bring a competitive edge to the otherwise boring friendly matches.
The games started on Thursday after the weekend of domestic action and the first game was played between two heavyweights of the modern game. Germany, featuring Antonio Rudiger, hosted world champions France, who started with N’Golo Kante and Olivier Giroud, in the opening game of Group A1. The game finished 0-0 but one of the main talking points surrounded the Blues defender as he appeared to step on the neck of Benjamin Pavard without being punished; he was eventually booked in the closing stages of the game. Kante ran the show in the middle of the park yet again while Giroud’s performance was nothing to write home about.
On the same night, Ethan Ampadu starred for Wales in their comfortable 4-1 win over the Republic of Ireland. It was the 17-year-old’s third appearance for his country and he earned special praise from new boss Ryan Giggs after the game. Following an assist for his centre midfield partner Aaron Ramsey, Giggs claimed the youngster would go onto become a “magnificent player”, someone who knows all about top-class footballers.
Chelsea had two representatives in the Nations League fixtures on Friday with Jorginho starting and scoring the equaliser in Italy’s 1-1 draw with Poland alongside his new team-mate Davide Zappacosta. The former Napoli midfielder looked assured in possession as the Azzurri were faced with having to come back from a goal down. Belgium’s friendly with Scotland provided a chance for Eden Hazard and Michy Batshuayi to shine and both players got on the scoresheet in a 4-0 win with the latter netting a brace. Hazard’s was particularly special and is certainly worth a watch while Batshuayi’s were both very good finishes.
On Saturday, Willian was brought on from the bench to replace Douglas `Costa in Brazil’s comfortable 2-0 victory away against USA where Matt Miazga started for the hosts. There was plenty of Blues interest in the Nations League clash between England and Spain in the evening with the potential of five players involved. It was a special night for Marcos Alonso who made his first start for his nation as they beat the Three Lions 2-1 at Wembley. Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Kepa Arrizabalaga, Cesar Azpilicueta and Alvaro Morata were all unused substitutes.
Two of the Blues’ non-European internationals were in action on Friday and Saturday. Michael Hector started for Jamaica in their 2-0 loss against Ecuador while Kenneth Omeruo retained his place in the Nigeria side for their AFCON qualifier with Seychelles. The Super Eagles convincingly eased past the minnows and the 3-0 scoreline flattered the lesser known nation.
The second round of fixtures commences on Sunday with Ampadu, Rudiger, Kante and Giroud all hoping to get more minutes for their respective national teams.