Has anyone actually bothered following the international tournaments that have been going on in the last few weeks?
We have had the Confederations Cup in Russia and the UEFA European Under-21 Championship in Poland bubbling on nicely in the last couple of weeks. And now we are at the business end of both competitions.
I have kind of drifted in and out of both competitions. With the Lions Tour, some cricket and Love Island, my TV time has been fairly filled. But I have tried to catch a bit of Chile and a bit of England U21s.
Both Chile (in the Confederations Cup) and England (in the U21s) have made their respective semi finals. England play tonight, Chile tomorrow night.
In the U21 tournament, England are 3rd favourites to win.
It has been a bit of a mixed ability tournament. The majority of German’s U21 team – England’s opponents tonight – are in Russia playing for the 1st team, as Joachim Lowe decided to play a development team and rest the likes of Mesut Ozil and Manuel Neuer.
Likewise the England side is certainly not our strongest set of U21 players as the likes of Raheem Sterling, Eric Dier, Dele Alli, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Marcus Rashford on senior duty.
A stand out player for the England U21’s has been Arsenal’s Calum Chambers.
Chambers has had a rough couple of years since his big money move to Arsenal, but it is easy to forget that he is still just 22. He has started every game for England, ahead of Arsenal’s FA Cup hero Rob Holding.
Before this summer, Chambers would have been one of those slated to leave Arsenal. But his performances for England would have changed a lot of fans mind on him. He has been brilliant, and most noticeably very strong in the air.
The fact he has been continually picked ahead of Rob Holding is testament to his ability. Arsenal would be silly to let him leave.
As for Rob Holding, it has been a frustrating tournament for him. From the high of the FA Cup win and becoming an Arsenal regular, to struggling to get any game time for England, behind Calum Chambers and some bloke from Swansea (in fairness, Alfie Mawson has played well).
Whilst the England and German sides are certainly not the strongest they could put out, Spain have selected the best side they could, with many senior professionals stepping down to the junior level.
One such player has been Hector Bellerin.
Bellerin played 90 minutes in both the first and second game, before being rested for Spain’s 3rd group game – with Spain being guaranteed qualification. Favourites Spain face Italy in the semi finals.
Krystian Bielik would have been disappointed to be an unused substitute in all of Poland’s games.
Meanwhile over at the Confederations Cup, record breaking Alexis Sanchez started off the tournament injured, but has shown just what a key player he is for Chile as he made history and became their all time top scorer.
With the likes of Alexis Sanchez and Arturo Vidal in the squad, there is certainly some value in Chile to beat Portugal, and even go on to win the thing.
Arsenal have more interested in the other semi-final as Germany take on Mexico. Shkodran Mustafi has played two of the 3 games for favourites Germany, where a big mistake against Chile led to club team mates Alexis Sanchez record breaking goal.
With Sanchez’s contract set to be resolved once the Confederations Cup is over, Arsenal fans will be itching for it to end at the weekend.
Plenty of football to watch this week.
Have a good one