With the World Cup on the horizon, the ongoing international break becomes even more important as every player tries to gain a spot to represent his country at the highest level. With that in mind, let’s take a look at a few Chelsea players who have had success in the first week of the set of friendlies played between some of the best footballing nations.
Russia vs Brazil
With Brazil possessing some of the best attackers in the world, there is no doubt that Willian has a tough fight on his hand to make that starting spot his own. And last night, Willian did very well to push on his case by getting an assist in Brazil’s 3-0 win over Russia.
Winning the ball after an unnecessary punch by Russian goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev, the Chelsea attacker ran down the right and delivered a pinpoint cross for midfielder Paulinho to score the Seleção’s last goal in their victory at the 2018 World Cup’s main stage.
Argentina vs Italy
At 36 years of age, Chelsea’s backup goalkeeper Wilfredo Caballero finally made his international debut against Italy with the Argentinian national team. He had a great night as he kept a clean sheet to guide his group to a 2-0 victory over the Italians.
The decisive save on Ciro Immobile’s shot at the 60-minute mark, when the game was still goalless, was one of the many he made on the night and his performance has definitely given his international manager Jorge Sampaoli plenty to think about. And if he keeps performing on this level, Caballero could go as far as taking the starting spot from Argentina’s current main goalkeeper and David de Gea’s club backup Sergio Romero.
Poland vs Nigeria
Speaking of Argentina, let’s move on to a team that is in the same group as them in the upcoming World Cup: Nigeria!
The Super Eagles have a tough WC group as the other three teams in it are the aforementioned South American superpower along with Iceland and Croatia. And they may need great performances from Chelsea’s Victor Moses if they are to qualify for the knockout stages.
Starting as a right winger, Moses was clipped down in the box and won a penalty. I wonder if he remembers what it feels like — referee calling penalties for your team, after playing for Chelsea for so long. Moses subsequently scored from the spot kick, helping Nigeria beat Poland 1-0.
France vs Colombia
In our International Preview, we described the France-Colombia game as a “battle of attack and flair”, and the game wasn’t a disappointment in that regard. Colombia beat France 3-2 but it was not all bad as one of Chelsea’s January signings in Olivier Giroud had a productive night.
The striker gave France the lead in the 11th minute by scoring off a David Ospina error. However, after going 2-0 up with a goal from Thomas Lemar the hosts proceeded to concede 3 and lose the game.
Another Chelsea player who started for France was N’Golo Kanté, who did things that most midfielders in the world (k)an’t.
Unfortunately, none of Antonio Rüdiger (with Germany), Marcos Alonso and César Azpilicueta (with Spain) were involved in the 1-1 draw between the winners of the two last World Cups, as the Chelsea defenders were mere spectators to the action that took place in Düsseldorf’s ESPRIT Arena. Perhaps in their next games, with Germany reenacting the 2014 World Cup (tragic) semifinals with Brazil and Spain facing the Brazilian’s fiercest rivals in Argentina, we can get some highlights from the men in Blue on duty for these national sides.
As for Andreas Christensen, the young defender returned from the Danish national team to Cobham due to fatigue.