Fresh off his star turn for Brazil in the South American U20 championships earlier this calendar year, Andrey Santos made his senior debut last night as well, in a friendly against Morocco. He was one of two debutants to get the start from interim head coach Ramon Menezes, who handed out a total of six first caps in the game.
That makes the final result, a 2-1 win for Hakim Ziyech’s Morocco — who reached the semifinals of the most recent World Cup just a few months ago, as we might recall — a little less surprising. Ziyech played the full-90, while Casemiro captained Brazil in Thiago Silva’s absence through injury.
This senior cap should be a boost for Andrey’s work permit prospects in the summer as well (though maybe not as much as we might imagine due to Brazil’s competitive fixture list).
There were quite a few other Chelsea players involved in international action on Saturday, highlighted by Kepa Arrizabalaga returning to the Spanish national team and collecting his first cap since 2020 in his first competitive international match since 2019.
Kepa made at least two highlight-worthy saves to keep a clean sheet against an Erling Haaland-less Norway, with Spain winning 3-0 — but not making that result safe until the final few minutes — to begin their Euro 2024 qualification campaign.
Elsewhere, Mateo Kovačić and Ethan Ampadu faced off in a midfield duel as Croatia battled Wales to a 1-1 draw — 75 minutes for Kova and the full-90 for our perpetual loanee — while Kai Havertz made a good impact for Germany as they beat Peru, 2-0 in a friendly.
Havertz, notably not deployed as center forward or striker or even a false-nine, set up (possibly inadvertently) the first of Niclas Füllkrug’s two first-half goals. Havertz should’ve gotten on the scoreboard himself as well, but missed his penalty in the second half. Better to get those misses out of the system while not in a Chelsea shirt!
On a final note, we had some Chelsea interest in the England U21 vs. France U21 friendly yesterday as well, wherein (Man of the Match) Noni Madueke grabbed a goal and an assist in 25 minutes of action, while Levi Colwill and Benoît Badiashile captained their respective nations.