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England relegated from Nations League A, whatever that means

Catching up with Chelsea players on international duty on Friday & Saturday

Gareth Southgate head coach of England reacts during the... Photo by Andrea Staccioli/Insidefoto/LightRocket via Getty Images

So I’ve been road tripping up and down the California and Oregon coasts this weekend, which I assure you is far more interesting and exciting than any international action that may have been going on, but this is not a road trip blog, this is a Chelsea blog, so let’s see what some of our players who did not have the week off have been up to over the last couple days.

The headline comes from Friday’s action, when England failed to win for the fifth straight match, losing 1-0 to Italy. The loss means England are guaranteed to finish last in their Nations League group, and thus suffer the pseudo-ignominy of being relegated from a semi-competitive friendly league ... into another semi-competitive friendly league (and also missing out on a preferred draw for the next Euro qualifying groups).

That said, this is hardly the sort of ideal preparation for Gareth Southgate & Co ahead of the World Cup. They’ve scored just one goal in these five games, and none that didn’t involve a free shot from 11 yards.

Reece James and Raheem Sterling both played the full-90 on Friday; Mason Mount watched from the bench (alongside Tammy Abraham and Fikayo Tomori), Ben Chilwell from the stands. Jorginho played all but the final few minutes for the Italians, who have a chance to win the group if they beat Hungary on Monday.

The Hungarians continue to surprise in this low-stakes carnival, notching a 1-0 win in Leipzig against Germany on Friday. It was Hungary’s first “competitive” win against Germany since 1954! Timo Werner started and played 70 minutes; Kai Havertz replaced him at that point and finished out the match. Neither scored, obviously.

Elsewhere on Friday, Hakim Ziyech made his return to the Morocco setup with 80+ minutes in a 2-0 friendly win over Chile, Thiago Silva played the first half for Brazil in a 3-0 friendly win over Ghana (for whom Baba Rahman played the full-90), and Christian Pulisic skipped the US’s 2-0 loss to Japan, which has ratcheted up the pressure (finally!) on head coach Gregg Berhalter.

On Saturday, César Azpilicueta’s Spain suffered their first home defeat in 22 tries, with Switzerland notching the 2-1 win. Azpi played all but the final few minutes. Armando Broja’s Albania also lost 2-1, conceding late in Israel, just a few minutes after equalizing. Broja played the full-90 but was kept off the scoresheet. In non-Nations League action, Kalidou Koulibaly helped Senegal keep a clean sheet against Bolivia in a 2-0 friendly win.

Chelsea first-team players Wesley Fofana and Carney Chukwuemeka were among several other Blues involved in youth internationals, in their case for France U21 and England U21, respectively.

Anyway, here’s some Coos Bay, OR vibes. Not my Airstream, sadly.

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