The start of the World Cup in Qatar will take place in less than two months. On November 20, the host country will open its competition against Ecuador. After this latest international break, it is difficult to give a favourite, even if, of course, the usual big nations will have their card to play. If Argentina and Brazil seem to be going through a good moment, the same cannot be said of the tenors of the old continent. Not to mention Italy, who failed to qualify, England, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Belgium and France are all experiencing various, and to varying degrees, worrying issues at a time when everyone is ready at the starting line. On your marks…
There has never been so much talk about Southagte
The English patient is probably the sickest. A year after reaching the final of the Wembley European Championship in a competition in which they did not shine either, the Three Lions have fallen very low. In a Nations League group with Germany, Italy and Hungary, they finished last and were relegated to League B. Results in free fall that are the consequence of a skidding game and a captain on board who can no longer hold the helm. Gareth Southgate is still groping, he came into the defense at 3 or 4, as well as having to handle the Maguire case, like a thorn in his side. Nevertheless, good news. England finally managed to score in the match against Germany (3-3), which had not happened since November 2021 and a 1-0 victory against San Marino.
Germany, a truce that leaves traces
Germany exactly. She is also plagued with doubts due to the last two games of hers. Hansi Flick experienced her first defeat against Hungary (1-0), but not a top opponent despite her good generation, before seeing her team score 3 goals in 11 minutes at Wembley. Defense poses a problem where no leader apart from Rüdiger stands out. In general, we noticed an obvious lack of leadership from the men in this team, especially on Monday night in the absence of Müller (at kick-off) and Neuer (package for this truce). The famous dream killer Nationalmannschaft seems to be far from his usual character. And then when Bayern Munich is bad, the team is usually bad.
Spain is still looking for executives
In 2021, Spain had regained color between a Euro semi-final, eliminated by Italy on penalties, and a Nations League final lost to France. Since then, however, he is not famous. This still very young team still shows irregularities, as evidenced by the games in June and during the lull against Switzerland and Portugal. Despite the obvious talents (Gavi, Pedri), Luis Enrique is missing important executives and players. Some starters in the national team are not even in the club. Only the aging Busquets has known the great Spain of the last decade, while voices are raised to remember Sergio Ramos, which is not to the taste of the coach, who wishes to remain the only teacher on board.
Fernando Santos and Cristiano Ronaldo, too much competition?
La Roja’s rival last night, Portugal also have their worries. There is an air of the end of the cycle for the generation of European champions in 2016, embodied by superstar Cristiano Ronaldo and manager Fernando Santos. Between them, they add 104 years. The first, who has become a substitute at Manchester United, will probably play his last major competition with his national team. Without a doubt, it is time for the top scorer in history (117 goals in 190 international matches) to take over. Those who have always been fond of statistics could not escape this one. He has only scored 2 goals in his last 8 matches with the Seleçao, where between June 2012 and September 2021 he directly contributed 43% of his team’s goals. In office since 2014, Fernando Santos is also very controversial, especially since he continues with two failures in the round of 16 stage in the last World Cup and in the European Championship.
Belgium is still looking for its defense and has doubts about Hazard
Belgium knows a bit of the same syndrome, the pool of players is smaller than its Portuguese counterpart. Since the retirements of Kompany and Vermaelen, the defense has struggled to find itself, and then Alderweireld and Vertonghen are not very young either. Debast (18), starter against Wales and Holland, is very inexperienced (23 professional matches). Roberto Martínez struggles to find the formula in his immovable 3-4-3. Without the injured Lukaku, the Red Devils have only shown 45 convincing minutes against the Welsh during this lull. And then what about Eden Hazard? The Real Madrid winger started both games, a first time in a long time, but he will have enough rhythm in Qatar, he who plays very little in Spain.
A tense climate around the Blues
The French team, reigning world champion and winner of the last Nations League, is not in the best shape. Didier Deschamps faces two big problems. Since the beginning of the year, which had already been glimpsed during the European Championship, some executives are undoubtedly coming to an end. We think of Lloris, Varane, Kanté, Pogba or even Griezmann, much less dominant than in recent years. The Blues also suffered 15 injuries during this latest lull, forcing the manager to call up the newcomers when ideally this rally would have been a general call-up for Qatar. The selection advances blindly, also undermined by internal issues of the group (Pogba) and external (FFF). “It brings a climate that is not the most calm and serene”Deschamps euphemism.
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