Soccer

Five fascinating things we learnt from the international break!

With another international break ticked off the calendar, it is time to return to domestic leagues and European football! Great news.

Eight teams have now sealed their qualification for Euro 2024 (nine including hosts Germany), and the structure of the tournament is starting to take place. Whilst understandably, most football fans prefer watching their club rather than international qualifiers, the break did show us some interesting things and provide some exciting action.

Here are five things that we noticed from the international break.

Micky van de Ven is a machine… with the pace of a 100m sprinter!

Spurs’ new centre-back signing Micky van de Ven has made a bright start to life in the Premier League. With Spurs still unbeaten, van de Ven has impressed fans and coaches alike and he earned his first two Netherlands appearances in this international break.

On his debut, a late cameo against France, van de Ven had little time to impress yet still demonstrated his considerable pace and defensive prowess as he thwarted a promising Jules Koundé attack with an impressive sprint and tackle.

If van de Ven continues to blossom in a Lilywhite shirt, he will be a starter for the Netherlands within no time. Just thinking about the VDV x Van Dijk centre-back partnership would give any striker nightmares. Throw De Ligt in the mix as the third option and all strikers now have permanent night terrors.

Cristiano Ronaldo is never going to slow down, is he?

The thing about goats is that they get smarter with age. The same logic seems to apply to GOATs as well.

Ronaldo did not have his finest 2022, at least the second half of it. Tragic personal ordeals off the pitch, poor performances on the pitch, ostracised by Manchester United and a swift exit from the World Cup, he’s had better years.

2023 is more the sort of year Ronaldo expects to have. Now at Al-Nassr, Ronaldo is back to top form and scarily for all defenders, that form is translating over for Portugal as well.

In two games, Ronaldo scored four goals and laid on one assist. In doing so, he became the highest-scoring player of 2023, with 40 goals. More than Kylian Mbappé, more than Lionel Messi, more than Erling Haaland.

The Italians have a gambling problem…

Nicòlo Fagioli, Sandro Tonani and Nicòlo Zaniolo have all been implicated in a gambling scandal over the international break. Fagioli’s agent reported that the Juventus youngster has an addiction.

La Gazzetta dello Sport and Il Corriere dello Sport proclaim Sandro Tonali has placed bets on football matches, breaching Article 24 of the Code of Sports Conduct.

If this is confirmed, Tonali would risk a ban of up to three years, unless he collaborates with authorities which would be a disaster for the Italian national team and for Newcastle.

It is estimated that there may be at least ten players implicated in this gambling scandal. Watch this space!

Just two years ago, Italy won the Euro 2020. For 2024, they may not even qualify…

Kylian Mbappé is the best in the world, a few bad games can’t let us forget that!

Kylian Mbappé, even with eight goals in nine games for PSG this season, was somehow being doubted over the last few weeks. A minor goal drought of four games had some sceptics questioning Mbappé. What were they thinking?

Mbappé proved why he has a worthy claim to call himself the world’s best as he put the Netherlands to the sword with two excellent goals and a top-class overall performance. Against Scotland a few days later, he scored and assisted and now France is on their way to Germany for Euro 2024.

Kylian, tu es incroyable!

Austria can’t be overlooked

Austria, under ex-Manchester United manager Ralf Rangnick, have lost just one of their last ten games. They have sailed through to Euro 2024 qualification, with 16 points in seven games.

Marcel Sabitzer is lethal for Austria. Marko Arnautovic and Cristopher Baumgartner lead the line with aplomb and Rangnick’s innovative tactics rub off better on Austria than they did on the Red Devils.

Watch out for Austria in 2024!

All statistics in this article were taken from the 365Scores App / Website. Download it here.

By Nicky Helfgott / @NickyH3lfgott on Twitter (X)

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