Isco England

Five things we learned from this week’s international action

France still very much ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ in post-Euros era

Didier Deschamps’ side showed plenty of resilience and mental strength when earning a come-from-behind victory over Sweden on Friday night. Paul Pogba scored a superb leveller just three minutes after going behind before Dimitri Payet completed the turnaround with 65 minutes on the clock. A win is a win but there were some concerning signs for Les Bleus...

However, they struggled to create opportunities against a pretty poor Ivory Coast outfit in what was a dreadful encounter. Whilst it was only a friendly fixture, French fans will be somewhat concerned at their lack of creativity without Antoine Griezmann and Pogba and Deschamps will demand more in France’s next international fixture...

 

Neymar and Coutinho give Brazil fresh hope

The Neymar-Coutinho combination worked wonders for Brazil once again as they produced a dominant performance to beat Argentina by three goals to nil. If their two main men can maintain their current form, the sky is the limit for this Brazil side. Defensively, Brazil are solid. In fact, they have now won five of their last six games without conceding a goal...

Coutinho has been linked with a summer move to Barcelona and his bond with compatriot Neymar is clear for all to see. Brazil look so much better when both men are on the field and head coach Tite will be quietly confident of securing their place in the 2018 World Cup after their impressive efforts against Argentina and Peru this week...

 

Republic of Ireland soaring while Wales slump in Group D

Who’d have thought it; the Republic of Ireland are sitting pretty at the top of Group D after winning three of their opening four games. Martin O’Neill’s men earned a mammoth away victory over Austria on Saturday and Ireland now control their own destiny as they look to reach the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

West Bromwich Albion midfielder James McClean scored the only goal of the game in this clash and O’Neill will be particularly impressed with his side’s stout defensive effort. In fact, Ireland have kept two clean sheets in their three wins during this qualifying campaign and they may need to maintain their prowess at the back in order to keep pace in Group D.

 

Portugal scoring goals for fun but still trail superb Switzerland

Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice but squandered the chance to net another treble on the international stage as he missed a penalty during Portugal’s 4-1 win against Latvia this weekend. The Real Madrid legend extended his record tally of national team goals to 68; a sensational feat to say the least. Fernando Santos’ men will be very difficult to beat in the two-horse battle for top spot....

Despite Portugal’s dominance in recent weeks, Switzerland still top the group after winning all four of their fixtures so far; including a two-nil win against the Euro 2016 champions at the start of September. A victory over the Faroe Islands is hardly a major achievement but the Swiss will fancy their chances of advancing as group winners if they keep this form up...

 

England are STILL doing England things...

Gareth Southgate must have been feeling pretty good about himself with 88 minutes on the clock during England’s clash with Spain on Tuesday night. The Three Lions had cruised past Scotland in their qualifier on Friday and were two-nil up against Spain; a nation that cruised to three consecutive major titles not too long ago.

However, this is England we are talking about. Southgate’s side lost focus late on as they gifted the visitors a lifeline before Isco snatched a late equaliser to send shockwaves across the Wembley crowd. England showed plenty of positive signs throughout the week but this result put a dampener on their impressive victory over the Auld Enemy...