International Friendlies: What you need to keep an eye on
The domestic and European campaigns may be all-but over – barring the Champions League final – but many footballers won’t be going on their holidays just yet.
That’s because we have a series of international friendlies coming our way, ahead of the latest round of World Cup qualifiers.
England face Scotland in qualifier on June 10, ahead of a friendly with France in Paris on June 13.
Before that however, there are a host of friendly contests to keep an eye on.
Friday June 2
Mexico (8/15) v Republic of Ireland (5/1)
There’s certainly no rest for those in the Republic of Ireland squad, who will play three games in nine days.
And the first of those will be in America, when they take on Mexico in New Jersey.
In truth, several senior members of O’Neill’s squad have been rested for the trip across the pond, so this is a great chance to try out some new names.
Northern Ireland (6/10) v New Zealand (19/4)
With a huge qualifier against Azerbaijan coming up next weekend, Michael O’Neill will be trialling some new faces when Northern Ireland host New Zealand.
Injuries have forced O’Neill’s hand to a degree, but this friendly is a great opportunity for players like Shay McCartan, Adam Thompson and Tom Flanagan to make an impression.
France (1/4) v Paraguay (12/1)
On paper this could be a tricky tie for France, who will be preparing for the toughest game of their qualifying group – away to Sweden next Friday.
These two met in the last 16 of the 1998 World Cup, but Paraguay head to Rennes with five defeats from seven.
All eyes will be on French hotshots Antoine Griezmann, Alexandre Lacazette and Kylian Mbappe as transfer speculation over the strikers continues to mount.
Saturday June 3
Portugal (2/13) v Cyprus (18/1)
Reigning European champions they may be, but Portugal are under a touch of pressure in the race to Russia.
They sit three points behind Switzerland, so they could do with building some momentum in this clash with Cyprus.
Sunday June 4
Republic of Ireland (15/8) v Uruguay (11/8)
The Boys in Green will return to Dublin for another tricky clash, this time with Uruguay.
We can expect a few of Ireland’s more established names to return here, as that crucial tie with Austria looms ever nearer.
Netherlands (4/5) v Ivory Coast (16/5)
As is seemingly far too frequent these days, the Netherlands are really struggling in qualification, and face a very real danger of missing out on Russia next year.
So they’ll need to turn up and put in a performance against the Ivory Coast.
Which won’t be easy, given that Marc Wilmots will be out to impress in his first game as coach of Les Elephants.
Eric Bailly and Wilfried Zaha are in the squad for the African nation, who could well increaseDutch woes.
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