The 13 European teams that will attend this year’s World Cup will have in the League of Nations this week the stage to gain experience in a competitive tournament less than two months before the appointment in Qatar.
While Brazil, Uruguay and Ecuador are put to the test against World Cup rivals in European venues, Argentina and Mexico will have warm-ups against unclassified rivals on United States courts. Costa Rica, the remaining Latin American team in Qatar 2022, has traveled to Asia to seek friction.
Europe receives multiple teams that will have their last rehearsals prior to the prelude to the World Cup.
Brazil will face Tunisia and Ghana in France, the country where their star Neymar plays for Paris Saint-Germain. The commitment against Tunisia will be in the Parc des Princes, PSG’s fiefdom.
Uruguay moves to Austria and Slovakia to face Iran and Canada, respectively.
Ecuador agreed blanks against Saudi Arabia (Murcia) and Japan (Duesseldorf).
The United States, Senegal, Morocco and hosts Qatar will also play in Europe.
After going back and forth to complete the away game against Brazil in the South American qualifiers, Argentina arranged to play on the East Coast of the United States against Honduras (Miami) and Jamaica (New Jersey).
Mexico settled in California, where it will fight against two South American teams that were left out of the World Cup, first against Peru (Pasadena) and then Colombia (Santa Clara).
This World Cup will be played for the first time in the middle of the European season, taking time away from the coaches to work with their teams.
Usually, the teams schedule two or three blanks during a long period of time prior to the start of a World Cup. It will not be like that on this occasion, since most of the teams will have a previous week with the full squad.
Brazil and its coach Tite want to explore variants. In the crosshairs is Pedro, the Flamengo striker who leads the scorers table in the Copa Libertadores.
Helmsman Didier Deschamps has had to modify the squad of the current world champions a lot after a series of injuries that left out the likes of Karim Benzema, Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kanté. He also had to rule out Hugo Lloris, Lucas Digne, Adrien Rabiot and Boubacar Kamara due to injuries.
With Jordan Pickford injured, the England manager will have to put another goalkeeper to the test as they take on Italy and Germany in the Nations League.
This decisive date of the European tournament will essentially be the last chance to earn a place in the World Cup squads.
Barring unforeseen events, Albiceleste coach Lionel Scaloni will take most of the players who won the Copa América and qualified for the World Cup in 2021 to the Middle East.
The first unknown to be cleared up in offense is between Paulo Dybala (Roma) and Ángel Correa (Atlético Madrid). The former achieved more regularity in his game with the change of club and the guidance of José Mourinho. Correa, on the other hand, has not finished consolidating himself in the Spanish capital as a whole.
In midfield, Enzo Fernández (Benfica) will have to demonstrate in friendlies what he hints at in his first European season. If he complies, he will take advantage of Exequiel Palacios (Bayern Leverkusen), who is not part of the squad due to a muscle injury.
Scaloni already has the starting defenders and full-backs, as well as their respective substitutes. The choice of another defender has more to do with a precaution in case of injury during the World Cup. Facundo Medina (Lens) and Nehuén Perez (Udinese, Italy) are fighting for one of the available tickets, although the coach’s favorite is Juan Foyth due to his ability to play both on the side and in defense. The Villarreal player suffered a knee injury that left him out of the friendlies and opened up the game to other options.
HOW TO REPLACE THE TECATITO IN MEXICO?
Gerardo Martino said that he would wait for the return of Jesús Corona until the last moment, but that does not mean that he will sit idly by and wait for him.
The coach of the Mexican team cited several players who in the friendlies against Peru and Colombia will hold auditions for the position that could become vacant if “Tecatito” does not recover in time from an ankle injury that threatens to leave him out of the World Cup .
The “Tata” could rehearse with Alexis Vega playing on the right, the place that belonged to the Sevilla player or changing Hirving Lozano to that place and leaving Vega on the left.
But behind those two players who seem to be starters there are others who raise their hands as an option: Uriel Antuna, Roberto Alvarado, Diego Lainez and even Orbelín Pineda will seek to be considered for the World Cup by that sector in the next two games.
LEAGUE OF NATIONS
The Nations League group stage will be completed with 54 teams playing 53 games in seven days.
In the 16-team League A, the top team from each of the four groups will advance to the “Final Four.” The current pointers are Denmark, Spain, Hungary and the Netherlands.
The final phase, to be played between June 14 and 18, will be hosted by the winner of the group that includes the Netherlands and Belgium. Those two teams will define the top spot on Sunday in the Netherlands.
Other notable matches: Portugal-Spain on Tuesday; Denmark-France on Sunday; and Italy-England on Friday. The last two commitments could condemn the French and English, last in their groups, to relegation.