Burki and Sokratis in Play-offs; Gotze’s first call-up in over a year: International Talking Points
Eleven Borussia Dortmund players have been called up for International Duty this time around, as club football takes a two weeks break.
Here are the things to look out for during this International Break:
Much Needed Rest for some players
Players like Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Shinji Kagawa and Christian Pulisic, who’re usual call-ups, will be staying back this time. Aubameyang’s Gabon and Pulisic’s USA failed to qualify for the World Cup 2018, while Kagawa’s Japan sneaked through their group stage unharmed.
While the two midfielders have been in great form, this break will be a much needed rest for the Gabonese striker, who’s fired many blanks this season and after a decent start, has struggled in recent weeks, failing to score in the last five games in a row and putting in awful displays. His confidence has fallen miserably, and he’ll be out to make amends after getting a much needed physical and psychological break.
Four to play in Friendlies as Gotze gets first call up in over a year
A great run of form meant that Mario Gotze received his first Germany call-up in more than an year. The star midfielder, who spent six months on the side-lines with a rare Metabolic disorder, could be seen in a Germany shirt against England this Friday and France next Tuesday.
Elsewhere, Marc Bartra (Spain), Omer Toprak (Turkey) and Andriy Yarmolenko (Ukraine) will also be taking part in friendly games this week.
Burki and Sokratis to play must-win games
While most other players are out to play in international friendlies, it is an entirely different scenario for two first teamers, who will be playing in must win play-offs.
Roman Burki’s Switzerland were all set to qualify for the World Cup, but losing their last group game to Portugal meant that they’ll now have to beat Northern Ireland in order to cement their place at Russia 2018. They’ve appeared at the last editions, reaching the Round of 16 twice, and much of the responsibility of leading the team in this two-legged tie will be on the shoulders of players like Granit Xhaka, Xherdan Shaqiri, Breel Embolo and Stephan Lichsteiner.
Sokratis, on the other hand, will lead Greece against a strong Croatia side, and his side will be under a huge pressure to qualify, particularly because Greece have played at World Cup 2012 and 2016, even reaching the Round of 16 three years back.
Youth Level Call-ups
Five Dortmund players have been called up to represent their countries at the youth level.
Jadon Sancho has received his first call-up for the England U-18’s, after previously impressing with the U-17’s, while Alexander Isak has been called up for the Sweden U-21’s. Defender Dan Axel Zagadou has been called up for France’s U-19 squad, while Mahmoud Dahoud and Jacub Bruun Larsen will both be involved in U-21’s, for Germany and Poland, respectively.