As the International break approaches, the first rounds of national team call-ups have been made today and over the past week. The significance of these call-ups is evident as they'll not only provide the last chance for fringe players to commend themselves but also most probably give us a first impression of how the final rosters should look. There will be further friendlies but they'll be as late as June, meaning that this really is the last call for the World Cup in Russia.
Unfortunately, this is the first time in several years that there's not a single Chelsea player being called up by the English national team, with captain Cahill obviously missing out and also the likes of Tammy Abraham and Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who had both celebrated promising debuts back in the fall (the lack of game time most certainly being the decisive factor here). Long ago are the days when Frank Lampard, Ashley Cole and John Terry, among others, were constant figures representing Chelsea for the Three Lions, something that makes me rather sad on a personal level.
Anyway, England will be playing against the Netherlands and Italy on March 23 and 27, respectively.
Voici la 1ère liste de l'année !— Equipe de France (@equipedefrance) March 15, 2018
RDV lundi à Clairefontaine pour préparer les matchs contre la Colombie et la Russie ! #FiersdetreBleus
Il reste 1000 places pour France Russie (23/03 au Stade de France)
➡ https://t.co/nOyXeahHgN pic.twitter.com/WMuxl4XRb7
On a more pleasant note, Chelsea's Olivier Giroud and the Kanté twins have been called up, though this isn't really too surprising. Less unusual, sadly, is that Tiemoué Bakayoko misses out after having a... bumpy season thus far and, looking at their midfielders, he'll have his work cut out to get anywhere near a call up before the World Cup.
France will be playing against Colombia and Russia on March 23 and 27, respectively.
[SELECCIÓN MAYOR] Con estos jugadores del fútbol local, Jorge Sampaoli completó la lista de convocados para los partidos ante Italia y España. pic.twitter.com/YVHflTxDji— Selección Argentina (@Argentina) March 12, 2018
Surprisingly, our fine back up keeper Wilfredo Caballero (awesome name, big Willy!) has received a call up and will be hoping for a first international cap. While he's been in Argentina's roster several times in the past, Willy's never actually played for the team and, even though I'd be really happy for the chap to finally receive one, chances are that he'll be sitting on the bench. However, it's a good sign as he'll probably join up with the team for Russia, keeping him fit for the new season (if his contract is hopefully renewed).
Argentina will be playing against Italy and Spain on March 23 and 27, respectively.
While Andreas Christensen has had a tough couple of weeks playing for Chelsea, I'm fairly confident that nobody ever doubted the talented young Dane would get a call up for the penultimate games ahead of Russia. Let's hope the change of scenery helps Christensen clear his mind and return to Cobham as sharp as ever!
Denmark will be playing against Panama and Chile on March 22 and 27, respectively.
Victor Moses is another Chelsea player who was bound to get the call as he undoubtedly counts as one of Nigeria's leading figures on the national team, though in a more forward role than he's used to under Conte. On a side note, it's worth mentioning that Chelsea hero John Obi 'he scores when he wants' Mikel was also invited to participate in Nigeria's upcoming games. Congrats!
Nigeria will be playing against Poland and Serbia on March 23 and 27, respectively.
There are a few others who were omitted by their national sides and should be mentioned at this point, namely back up keeper Eduardo (who had been part of Portugal's winning team in 2016) and Chelsea's Brazilian contingent, with the exception of Willian.
Further team news is to follow tomorrow or in the upcoming days as Spain, Italy, Germany, and Belgium are all still to announce their rosters.
Let's hope that the International break doesn't cost us this time and also that all of Chelsea's players come home without an injury!