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Christensen impresses for Denmark; Conte's Italy settles for draw against Spain

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Claudio Villa/Getty Images

It was a fairly busy Thursday across three continents for several Chelsea players involved in international games, and except for Pedro, who sat through Spain's 1-1 draw with Italy on the bench, it was a fairly successful day for everyone.

Let's start with the big headliner in Europe, a friendly between two of the most successful footballing nations on the planet.  Both hosts Italy and visitors Spain were missing several key players, though Vicente Del Bosque's starting lineup was surely a lot closer to what we may be seeing at Euro 2016 than Antonio Conte's.  The future Chelsea coach opted for his expected shifting 3-5-2/3-4-3/5-4-1 formation and the extra midfield presence seemed to largely do the trick of disrupting Spain's usual midfield dominance.  Captain Cesc Fabregas and left back Cesar Azpilicueta (both of whom started) and company will have to do miles better to come anywhere close to winning a third successive European Championship this summer.

Italy's first half efforts were largely subpar as well, but Conte's second half changes were on point.  Goalscorer Lorenzo Insigne was probably man of the match, while Simone Zaza made a decent case for his inclusion in the final squad as well.  Italy's lead was short-lived as Spain equalized through a rather unlikely source (35-year-old Aritz Aduriz, who's enjoying a late-career resurgence) though Morata was probably offside on the initial free kick from Fabregas.

While the second half was an improvement on the largely drab first, perhaps the most exciting thing to happen from a Chelsea perspective was a certain Gary Staker's presence.  Whenever he's not standing guard over the tunnel at Stamford Bridge, he apparently speaks Italian and used to be a translator for Claudio Ranieri.  Make of that what you will.  His official title is 'Player Liaison Officer' but the implication is that he was doing the liaising with a manager (and manager's agent) rather than any players this time around.

Earlier in the day, young Andreas Christensen made his first ever start for Denmark, winning his third cap, as they beat Iceland 2-1.  I did not get to see this game, but by all accounts he put in yet another impressive shift.  Incidentally, Denmark appeared to play some version of a 3-man defence, with Andreas at the heart of it.  Hmmm... what say you, Antonio?

Elsewhere, both Colombia (Juan Cuadrado) and Ghana (Baba Rahman, Christian Atsu) registered wins over Bolivia and Mozambique, respectively.  Also, Tammy Abraham scored for England U19.  Then again, it's probably bigger news when Abraham plays without scoring rather than the other way around.