The international friendlies over the past week provided an unneeded reprieve from the frenetic club season with Championships and major European Competitions beginning to reach their respective climaxes. As most of you know, I hate international breaks. I rarely give a toss about the results as they're pretty much predictable and the matches consist of superior nations putting minnows to the sword. Usually, the greatest moments lay when a country such as Montenegro or San Marino score a goal and they're fans go absolutely mental - sometimes the spectacle is actually Oscar worthy. Netflix should do a documentary.
Anyways, this international break felt slightly different in that there seemed to be a changing of the guard or at least some new blood entering the fray.
My beloved England were finally the highlight of the break introducing a blistering attack force which presented the unmatched pace of Raheem Sterling, Callum Hudson-Adoi and Jason Sancho. They easily dismantled the Czechs and Montenegrin’s filling the onion bag with 10 goals over two matches. This team is capable of special things if they keep their heads on straight and stay humble. What's different this time than with the 'Golden Generation' is that the talent pool is bigger. If someone gets injured there are replacements if equal quality. It’s all about depth my friends.
Germany also introduced their next generation and while their results weren't and pleasing on the eye as the Three Lions, they did beat a resurgent Dutch team. after Joachim Löw ruthlessly cut Matt's Hummels, Jerome Boateng, and Thomas Mueller after the 2018 World Cup debacle, you had to wonder where they next wave of talent would come from but he's made a great play in mixing youth with youthful experience. Thomas Reus is still in the squad and the flanks are full of firepower with Serge Gnabry and Leroy Sane. However, while the Germans looked good, I don't think they currently have the depth to compete in the 2020 European Championships or World Cup 2022.
France is in a period which Spain was in between 2008 - 2012 where they won two European Championships and a World Cup. France reached the European Championship final at home in 2016 where they were beaten by player-coach, Cristiano Ronaldo, and they went on to win the World Cup in Russia 2018. I can forsee a period of prolonged dominance by France as their core is in their early to mid 20’s and their talisman, Antoine Griezmann, is in his football prime at 28. France established their football center, Clairefontaine, in 1988 and since, they’ve gone on to win two World Cups and a European Championship not to mention numerous semi-final and final appearances.
In 2012, England opened St. Georges Park National Football Center for the country’s elite players and National Teams. It’s no coincidence that seven years later we are seeing a surge of some of the most creative and talented English footballers in the country’s history. Combined with players being managed by some of the best coaches in World football who are plying their trade in the Premier League, England does have a chance to be the next Spain or France in - no pressure!
On a side-note but way more important than any of the aforementioned, what the fuck is up with racism in society these days? We’ve seen horrible scenes in the Premier League with incidences such as banana peels being thrown at African players, a handful of Montenegro fans projected monkey chants at England’s black players and numerous fans from clubs across Europe have hurled racial abuse at different players. It’s unbelievable that this kind of shit still exists in society and the idiots that enact it can still walk freely. I agree with John Barnes statement that, “You can’t get rid of it in football before you get rid of it in society.” With the slight rise of the right-wing due to some politicians ludicrous approaches to how society should operate and how people should treat thy neighbor, we seem to be sliding down a slippery slope. However, while the people that represent some on the Global stage may be completely ignorant at the core, we can all stand up for what’s right when summoned, directly or indirectly, and what’s right is equality.