The European club season is over but the football doesn’t stop. The football never stops. You can’t stop the signal, kids.
This summer, in addition to the usual slate of post-season internationals, including Euro 2020 qualifiers, we have a Women’s World Cup, slated to be the best and most popular yet, followed later by continental championships in Africa and both halves of the American continent as well.
There is and will be plenty of Chelsea involvement in all of those, so let’s see, briefly, what happened over the weekend.
WOMEN’S WORLD CUP
Host nation France got the big party started with a 4-0 masterclass against South Korea, for whom Ji So-yun played the full 90 minutes in midfield — ostensibly attacking midfield but so great was France’s dominance, that South Korea barely registered a chance. France led 3-0 by half and added a fourth late on for good measure. They’re certainly living up to their status as one of the favorites.
Saturday saw victories for Germany (1-0 over China), Spain (3-1 over South Africa), and, last but certainly not least, Norway (3-0 over Nigeria). The 1995 champions, captained by versatile Chelsea defensive player Maren Mjelde who partnered fellow Chelsea teammate Maria Thorisdottir in central defense, made short work of the Super Falcons, scoring three times in the first half before seeing out the rest of the game without too much difficulty. Norway’s opening goal came from Guro Reiten, who will be joining Chelsea after the tournament. Reiten picked up an assist as well on Norway’s second goal with a great slide rule pass, underlining her credentials as one of the most talented and creative players in women’s football.
Sunday’s big game from the Chelsea perspective was England’s 2-1 victory over Scotland, which featured no fewer than four Blues, plus a fifth, backup goalkeeper Carly Telford of the England bench. Center forward Erin Cuthbert was the lone Scotland representative, and while she was kept off the scoresheet, she did manage to get club teammate Millie Bright injured in a 50-50 after she landed awkwardly on her shoulder. Super Fran Kirby played most of the match and was narrowly kept off the scoresheet, but had a role in both of England’s goals, first by winning a penalty (VAR calling a handball) and then getting credited for an assist on a miskick. They all count! Chelsea captain Karen Carney got 20 minutes off the bench towards the end.
Earlier on Sunday, Italy beat Australia 2-1 and Brazil took care of Jamaica 3-0.
The World Cup continues today with Argentina taking on 2011 champions (and 2015 runners-up) Japan, followed by Canada vs. Cameroon. The USWNT play on Tuesday, as do the talented Swedish and Dutch teams, plus Ali Riley’s New Zealand!
EURO 2020 QUALIFYING
More action here than you can shake a stick at, but the ones we care about include:
- Kepa Arrizabalaga getting the start and letting in a goal to Faroe Islands in Spain’s 4-1 victory
- Andreas Christensen playing in Denmark’s 1-1 draw with Republic of Ireland
- Ethan Ampadu returning to competitive action having been out since February, but ending up on the losing side of a 2-1 against Mateo Kovačić (and Mario Pašalić) and Croatia
- Emerson picking up an assist in Italy’s 3-0 win over Greece, with Jorginho also impressing.
- Olivier Giroud and France shockingly losing to Turkey, 2-0 — no Kanté, no party — Zouma only on the bench.
- Belgium beating Kazakhstan easily, 3-0.
Eden Hazard , who played the full 90 alongside brother Thorgan, captained the side and was also honored for reaching 100 caps. Thibaut Courtois and Romelu Lukaku both started as well, with the latter scoring Belgium’s third.Well at least we still got Michy Batshuayi, who played the final 20.
England finished third in the inaugural Nations League final four, beating Switzerland 6-5 on penalties after a scoreless 120 minutes. Ross Barkley was a half-time substitute and scored a cheeky penalty in the shootout.
The Nations League itself was won on home turf by Portugal, who beat the Netherlands 1-0 in the Porto final. Shockingly, it was not Cristiano Ronaldo with the winning goal, but rather Gonçalo Guedes. Former Chelsea prospect Nathan Aké, valued at £40m these days by the rumor mill, was on the bench but did not get involved.
Elsewhere, Nigeria played out a 0-0 draw against Zimbabwe on Saturday (Aina, Omeruo both started and played the first 45) while Brazil destroyed 10-man Honduras 7-0 on Sunday. Willian did not feature as he had just arrived after a late call-up to replace the injured Neymar.
Last and certainly least, the US Men’s National Team followed up a poor 1-0 loss to Michael Hector’s Jamaica on Wednesday with an even poorer loss, and this time with a more full-strength squad (though still sans Christian Pulisic). Matt Miazga got the start and played the full 90 in the 3-0 embarrassment against Venezuela. This was the USA’s final tune-up for the Gold Cup. They’re counting on you, Christian, to save the day!