The international football calendar takes somewhat of a breather as the Euro 2020 qualifiers are now finished for the summer.
But the Women’s World Cup rolls on in full force (literally, if you’re the USA, fresh off their 13-0 win over Thailand), while the Gold Cup, the Africa Cup of Nations, and the Copa America are just around the corner.
Here’s what happened on Monday and Tuesday.
WOMEN’S WORLD CUP
There was no Chelsea involvement on Monday as Argentina kept high-powered Japan at bay, 0-0, and Canada squeaked by Cameroon, 1-0. Tuesday was a different story however, in every respect.
Ali Riley’s New Zealand got things started by almost pulling off an excellent scoreless draw against a talented Netherlands side, only to finally cave to their relentless pressure in the 92nd minute and lose 1-0. Captain Riley was deployed at left back and played the full 90 in what was her 10th match and her 4th Women’s World Cup.
Sweden left it late, too, but eventually put two past a resilient Chile side in the final ten minutes to win 2-0. One does wonder if Chile may have been able to hold on were it not for a 45-minute weather delay with 18 minutes to go, but that’s just how mother nature ordained it on this day. Chelsea’s Magdalena Eriksson was also deployed at left back and played the full 90. Fellow defender Jonna Andersson was an unused substitute. Former Chelsea goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl kept the clean sheet.
If Sweden’s game featured thunder and lightning in the skies, the USA’s match featured it on the pitch, as they put a Women’s World Cup record 13 past poor ol’ Thailand. Ten of those came in the second half, during which the USWNT started to draw some flak for their continued exuberant celebration. You play to win the game! Alex Morgan scored 5 just by herself, adding 3 assists.
Former Chelsea player Crystal Dunn played the full 90 at, you guessed it, left back. She did not get on the scoresheet, which surely means extra laps in training tomorrow.
(The men’s record for the biggest win at a World Cup is Hungary’s 10-1 demolition of El Salvador in 1982. The 9-goal margin of victory was also matched by Yugoslavia in 1974 when they beat Zaire, 9-0, and by the Magical Magyars themselves during that famous 1954 tournament when they beat South Korea, 9-0.)
EURO 2020 QUALIFYING
Germany tried their best to imitate the USWNT, but only managed to put 8 past Estonia. Antonio Rüdiger missed it all of course on account of his knee injury.
- On Monday, Kepa confirmed his new status as Spain’s No.1 by keeping a clean sheet against Sweden.
- Also on Monday, Andreas Christensen started again for Denmark — in defense! — as they took care of Georgia with ease, 5-1.
- On Tuesday, there was a comeback win for Italy (Jorginho, Emerson both playing the full 90) against Bosnia, 2-1, and a much simpler win for Belgium (Michy Batshuayi an unused substitute) against Steve Clarke’s Scotland, 3-0. (All the usual suspects played for Belgium — FIVE former Chelsea players in the starting lineup — but recounting their exploits would only make me sad.)
- Ethan Ampadu got a start, too, and played over 50 minutes but Wales were surprisingly beaten by Hungary, 1-0. Wales are in deep, deep trouble in their qualifying group, which includes Hungary, Slovakia, Azerbaijan, and Croatia as well. Mateo Kovačić played the full over 50 for the latter as they lost a friendly to Tunisia.
youngsterKurt Zouma also got to start, getting a run-out at center back against lowly Andorra. Unsurprisingly, France had no issues in collecting all three points here (unlike in their surprise loss to Turkey a few days prior), and Zouma even got to score his first international goal. Get in, Big Happy!