Kate Barrington  |  Wed 10th Oct   | Soccer

With the major European leagues on international break, the world turns its attention to national team soccer. We highlight the best friendlies as well as the new UEFA Nations League that pits the best national teams in Europe head to head.

UEFA Nations League

The new tournament set up by UEFA to replace what they call “meaningless” friendlies. It’s a very interesting concept that sees the best teams in Europe compete against each other more regularly in games with actual meaning.

Germany will be looking to bounce back from a horrible World Cup campaign as they take on the Dutch in Nation League action. Long-time coach Joachim Low looks to breathe new life into what some have called a squad gone stale. The Germans have no shortage of talented players so it will be interesting to see what changes if any he makes.

In perhaps the strangest game of the UEFA Nations League, Croatia will host England in an empty stadium. Croatia is serving a ban for a racist incident in a game against Italy in June 2015. It would have been an incredible atmosphere to play a rematch of the World Cup semi final. Instead Croatia is given a reminder of their many off the field issues related to their national team and its players.

England have called up a number of players making their first appearance for the national team. They have two tough encounters as they take on Spain at home after returning from Croatia.

With so many new faces in the squad, it is expected that manager Gareth Southgate will make some changes to the team that was so successful at the World Cup.

Friendly Matches

We begin in Cardiff on October 11 where Wales, without Gareth Bale, will host Spain. It’s unfortunate that he will not take part in this friendly match but it should be an interesting contest that sees some young talent get a chance for both sides.

In Brussels on October 16th, the mighty Belgium host a Netherlands team trying to re-build after missing out on the World Cup. It was strange for the Dutch not be in the tournament. They are the team with the most appearance without actually having won the World Cup loosing in 3 Finals. They will look to get things into gear in preparation for Euro 2020.

Meanwhile Belgium come off an incredible World Cup performance and will look to keep building on that momentum. Kevin DeBruyne is still out with injury and although Hazard did not train with the squad today it is believed he has been given a rest by manager Roberto Martinez.

And last but not least the most interesting friendly sees bitter rivals Brazil and Argentina face off in the Middle East also taking place October 16th.

New Argentina manager Lionel Scaloni will attempt fix the mess left behind by his predecessor Jorge Sampaoli. He looks set to give an opportunity to Paolo Dybala of Juventus and Mauro Icardi of Inter Milan the chance they deserve in the national team. Sampaoli barely played Dybala in the World Cup and didn’t even call Icardi to the team. For far too long this national team has depended on Lionel Messi to do everything. These two players have more than enough talent to make sure that heading into his thirties, Messi has the help he needs. In the mean time Messi will not be taking part in this match giving some new faces a chance.

As for Brazil, manager Titehas called up a full strength squad the includes the likes of Neymar, Coutinho and Roberto Firmino. Brazil has already made it very clear that they don’t care that Messi isn’t playing, they always want to beat they’re arch rivals.

This will be a great week of soccer filled with action packed games.

Kate Barrington