Call Of Duty: Chelsea Players Have Mixed Fortunes On International Break
It must have been pretty lonely at Cobham this past week, with a lot of first-teamers away on international duty. Antonio Conte knows very well how it is, having managed Italy before they turned to sh*t and failed to qualify for the World Cup altogether. With just a handful of players at his disposal, let’s turn our attention towards those who represented their national teams in the first round of international friendlies in this break.
#1 England’s New Order
It may have been an experimental squad, but Gareth Southgate omitting Gary Cahill from his squad might be the beginning of the end of the Chelsea skipper’s England career. Cahill can hardly have any complaints with that. He is no longer first choice at Chelsea, having been upstaged by young Andreas Christensen. But Cahill was not alone. In a world where Jake Livermore and James Tarkowski can get an England call-up, Danny Drinkwater must wonder what he needs to do to get his next England cap. But these two were not alone in being snubbed by Southgate, with Ross Barkley also left at home. To be fair, though, Barkley has barely played and has been injured for large parts of this season. But this group of an ageing defender, a backup midfielder and a perma-crocked attacker is a far cry from the days of yore when Chelsea were able to send the likes of Frank Lampard, John Terry, Ashley Cole and Joe Cole to represent England. Until something changes at Chelsea, such as youth team players getting chances in the senior team, this trend is set to continue.
#2 Kante Can’t Save France
With Paul Pogba experiencing the joy of Jose first-hand, N’Golo Kante started for France with Matuidi in midfield against Colombia. But despite leading by two goals, they capitulated in dramatic fashion and lost the game 3-2. Sometimes I wonder how different it would be for Chelsea, Pogba and France, had he somehow signed for Chelsea instead of returning to Manchester. A midfield of Kante and a happy Pogba would obliterate almost any opposition midfield in the world. If Pogba is unhappy at Manchester United, perhaps a move to London, playing for a manager who knows how to use him could revitalise him. One can dream.
#3 Goals Galore
Victor Moses won and converted a penalty in their 1-0 victory against Poland. Olivier Giroud was also on the scoresheet, as his 30th goal for France made him his country’s 5th all-time leading scorer. And that’s about it, really. Here’s hoping Giroud can notch one against this weekend’s opponents to give us a big boost in the race for Champions League qualification.
#4 Trust Issues
Belgium manager Roberto Martinez called up Thibaut Courtois despite Chelsea doctors declaring him injured and unavailable. Having travelled to join up with the Belgium squad, Courtois was then sent back to Cobham with a “Verified” stamp stuck to his forehead. It was a strange one, with a national team manager refusing to believe the prognosis of a player’s club doctors. Come on, Bobby, lighten up a bit. Not everyone is out to get you. The time Courtois wasted in preparing and travelling to and from the Belgium camp could have been better used in recovery. It was the same case with Christensen, who was called up and then sent back due to fatigue. Strange.
#5 A Tale of Two Willies
Willian has been in red hot form and he carried it over to the Brazil national team setup. He did not score, but he did grab an assist for Brazil’s third goal. Meanwhile, Chelsea’s reliable number two goalkeeper, Willy Caballero, made his debut for Argentina and kept a clean sheet. Could he make it to the World Cup? Time will tell. But until then, go Willies!
It’s not over yet. There’s another round of international friendlies to go before Chelsea return to take care of business against Spurs. Keep your fingers crossed that no fresh injury concerns emerge after the break.