While France and England keep up their World Cup pace, the fall and fall of Croatia continues. Here are Europe’s international break winners and losers
Another demolition of Iceland, just like at the last Euros. The quality on show for Les Bleus is what you expect from the World Champions. Kyllian Mbappé and Antoine Griezmann combined magnificently, with Paul Pogba inspiring them. A phenomenal side.
It might not be coming home just yet, but these are the biggest reasons to believe in a while. With 10 goals scored in two matches, Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions put all their talent on display, with an incredible mix of fresh youth, quality, excitement and results.
Callum Hudson-Odoi and Jason Sancho are the cover stars, but everyone in the squad is quality, both on the pitch, and off the pitch with the pin-point perfect words spoken after the racist abuse at the Montenegro game.
4️⃣ great goals – but which one was best? ?#threelions
— England (@England) March 27, 2019
Roberto Mancini’s young Azzurri side started their qualifiers in the best possible way, with two wins in a row and eight goals scored. Juventus’ 19-year-old Moise Kean is the main face of a young, fresh, side that could be one of the surprises of the upcoming months.
Joachim Low decided it was time to start a renewal of the players and the squad, and despite having some ups and downs, Germany showed the new generation could be up to the challenge of imitating the old one. The last minute winner against the Netherlands is what was needed to fuel the enthusiasm.
He seemed like the classic one-tournament-wonder at last summer’s World Cup, being the star man of hosts, Russia. The Valencia winger is much more than that. With three goals in two European qualifying games, the former Real Madrid man showed he still has it, at least when he plays for Russia, and wants to be the star man of his international side also at the next Euros.
“I’m not worried, I know my body and I will be back in a couple weeks,” said CR7 after limping off the pitch against Serbia with a hamstring problem. It might not worry him, but it certainly worries the Juventus fans. CR7 didn’t score in two matches played and picked up an injury. Not exactly the ideal return to international action with Portugal.
Not the ideal international window either for another Juventus star, as the Bosnian midfielder was sent off for a direct red card against Greece and is at risk of being banned for the next two matches. Bosnia were two goals up against the Greeks – with Pjanic scoring a splendid free kick – but crumbled in the end and conceded twice to end up with just a draw.
After reaching the World Cup final in July, the Croatian national football team haven’t been the same since. After facing relegation in the Nations League, they started the Euro Qualifiers with a win over Azerbaijan, and a defeat in Hungary. The struggle continues.
All seemed perfect after 83 minutes of their game against Denmark – then it was mayhem. The Swiss conceded three goals in the space of seven minutes, going from being top of the group after a win to having to settle for second, wasting a golden opportunity to have an early advantage.
Simply unacceptable. Any sort of racial abuse can only be condemned, in every possible form. Disgusting behaviour from the Montenegro fans.