A piece from Sam Nanopoulos and James Smith
As much as international breaks are hated amongst the footballing community, they still happen none the less. There’s nothing we can do to stop them, so we might as well embrace them. Some of Chelsea’s own have been keeping themselves busy over the break; some through Euro 2020 qualifiers and some through International Friendlies. In this article we will take a look at each player who featured and review their performances.
Our Catalan shot stopper had two games lined up, one against Romania and the other against the Faroe Islands. Fortunately for Spain, they have two world class keepers, in De Gea and Kepa, but unfortunately for the latter, that means shared game time. His chance came against the Romanians, a game in which they won 2-1. He made 2 saves, one of which was a brilliant reaction stop from a close range shot. He also had an 88% pass accuracy, and completed 3 long balls. However that would have been a game in which he would have expected to keep a clean sheet.
Emerson has been somewhat of a revelation this season. We knew from the end of last season that he was a consistent performer but this season he has stepped up another level. He carried his purple-patch of form into Italy’s opener against Armenia. Defensively, he won 6 duels, made 4 tackles and 7 recoveries. Then in the other direction, he finished the match with a 92% pass accuracy, created 2 chances and registered an assist with a pinpoint cross across the box. It was a stellar performance and everyone was waiting to see what he could conjure up against Finland. However he got injured in the 8th minute and sent the Chelsea fan base into delirium. Luckily it looks
to be nothing serious and should be fit again by the end of the month.
A mixed bag of results for Christensen and his Danish counterparts. An emphatic 6-0 thrashing of Gibraltar followed by an underwhelming 0-0 draw against Georgia leaves them second in Group D behind Ireland. The Danes didn’t concede a single goal in the two games and that is in part down to Christensen’s solid performances. Against Gibraltar he put up a 97% pass completion, with all of his long balls finding a teammate whilst he made two tackles and interceptions in a game in which the opponents had just 22% possession. Then, a few days later he made 7 clearances, won 80% of his duels and completed 90 passes against Georgia. You couldn’t really ask for much more.
Despite his varying performances in the blue of Chelsea this season, he didn’t feature at all in the blue of France. In both the games against Albania and Andorra, Laurent Blanc preferred a centre-half pairing of Varane and Lenglet. As much as it would have been nice for Zouma to pick up some more minutes this season, you can see why Blanc chose the La Liga duo over him.
In Italy’s 3-1 win over Armenia, Jorginho ran the show. He orchestrated the team from midfield and put up impressive numbers in all areas of the game. 89% pass accuracy, 3 chances created and 7 accurate long balls all show his presence going forward. He also won 6 duels, completed 2 tackles and made 3 interceptions. A near perfect display from the regista. He then followed the performance up with an equally good one against Finland. He made 77 passes from an attempted 84, made 2 tackles and completed 5 long balls before scoring the match winning penalty. Overall, an impressive set of performances from our Italian.
Ross Barkley continues to start for England, gaining a place in the starting XI for both qualifying games despite being ousted from the Chelsea side by fellow England international Mason Mount. Playing in his preferred no.10 role, he was average at best over the two games, with only flashes of brilliance, similarly to his career at Chelsea. Against Bulgaria he had a passing accuracy of 90%, with 5 dribbles completed. Whilst against Kosovo he had an 89% passing accuracy but was at fault for the first Kosovo goal as he sold Michael Keane short who was dispossessed. It was a very safe and uninspiring set of performances from Barkley.
After a fantastic start to the season, Mount was called up to the squad for the second time, and made his debut against Bulgaria coming off the bench for the last 20 minutes. He impressed in that cameo, with his pressing style evident from the outset. Mount had a passing accuracy of 93% and took two shots, one of which was blocked well by the Bulgarian defence. He also appeared for 10 minutes against Kosovo, boasting a pass success rate of 88%, which included one key pass.
It was a disappointing week for Pulisic, who saw his USA side fall to a 3-0 defeat to Mexico. He didn’t have much of an impact on the game, but Mexico were on top so he didn’t have much of a chance. He’s returned to Chelsea training early, missing the USA’s final game of the break, in order to be ready for Wolves.
Despite only starting 1 match under Lampard so far, and finding limited minutes from the bench, Giroud still seems to be the favoured number 9 under Blanc. He started both games against Albania and Andorra and came away with one goal to show for his efforts. In the first game against Andorra he tucked away a brilliant cross from Hernandez, as well as creating 2 chances for his team mates with 2 key passes. However, he found himself as a bit of a passenger in the second match. In 72 minutes, he touched the ball just 21 times, making just 12 passes. Only 2 of his 5 shots were on target and subsequently he made way for Ben Yedder with just under half an hour to play. Judging by these performances, it’s probably best Giroud continues to feature from the bench, especially with the great form that Abraham is in.
The ever inconsistent Belgian has only been given seven minutes of action so far under the new boss, so the International Break was his first proper opportunity to stretch his legs this season. And it’s fair to say he took the opportunity with both hands, grabbing a brace against San Marino with two well taken goals. The first was a well-placed penalty, and the second was a powerful downwards header. He was also heavily involved in the build-up of Dries Mertens goal too. However he then didn’t feature against Scotland. I think it’s best that Abraham remains the number one striker, but with a busy month ahead, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Michy getting some more game time for Chelsea.