Fiorentina has had a bit of a reputation for having its players miss out on international duty. Guys like Borja Valero, Gonzalo Rodríguez, and Adem Ljajić (among many others) were rarely selected for various reasons; heck, Giancarlo Antognoni didn’t play nearly as much with the Azzurri as he should of because he had to split time with Gianni Riva.
That’s changing, though, as the first international break of the season sees no fewer than 15 senior Viola players jetting off (or, in the case of the Italians, driving over) to join their respective national sides. It’s the most I can remember in quite a while. And so, without further ado, here are the lads.
Germán Pezzella and Giovanni Simeone have both been picked into a young and perhaps rather experimental side by interim manager Lionel Scaloni. The former will compete for minutes in central defense with Ramiro Funes Mori, Renzo Saravia, and Walter Kannemann; of that group, only Funes Mori (19) has more caps than Pezzella’s two. Cholito will join Paulo Dybala, Mauro Icardi, and Lautaro Martínez in a stacked attack. Asking him to beat out those first two for significant minutes is a big ask, but he should get some time off the bench.
Argentina will play both of its friendlies in the USA. First, la Albiceleste will take on Guatemala in Los Angeles on Friday, 7 September 2018, before a big clash with CONMEBOL rivals Colombia in East Rutherford, NJ, on Tuesday, 11 September 2018.
Manager Paulo Duarte has picked Bryan Dabo to reinforce the midfield for AFCON qualifiers at Mauritania on Friday, 7 September 2018, and against Botswana on Monday, 10 September 2018. The Fiorentina man will have a good chance to add to his two caps, although the presence of veterans Charles Kaboré and Abdou Traoré in the engine room means that Perestroika will have to be sharp to earn a spot, although he’s probably got a good chance of surpassing Traoré. He could be an interesting one to watch, too, as he has more responsibility to get forward with les Étalons than he does with the Viola.
Juventus loanee Marko Pjaca is back in the fold with manager Zlatko Dalić for the first time since the World Cup final. While Ivan Perišić remains first choice on one side, the absence of Ante Rebić and Andrej Kramarić means that there’s definitely a spot open on the wing; Pjaca will compete with Duje Čop and Marko Livaja for the spot. While the Viola man is the only natural winger of the bunch, his recent injuries may push him to the role of impact substitute. The Vatreni travel to Loulé for a friendly against Portugal on Thursday, 6 September 2018, before moving on to Elche to take on Spain in the inaugural Nations League on Tuesday, 11 September 2018.
The Danes need to rebuild their central midfield following the retirements of stalwarts Michael Krohn-Daehli and William Kvist, and that means that manager Åge Hareide has handed Christian Nørgaard his first call up for the national side. While the 24-year-old is probably behind Thomas Delaney and Lukas Lerager, he should sneak past Anders Christiansen and Mike Jensen in the pecking order, especially since he’s more of a holding midfielder than either of the latter pair. Denmark travel to Slovakia for a friendly in Trnava on Wednesday, 5 September 2018, before hosting Wales in Aarhus for their Nations League opener on Sunday, 9 September 2018.
With Azzurri manager Roberto Mancini in attendance against Udinese, the three Viola players selected for Nations League matches—against Poland in Bologna on Friday, 7 September 2018, and at Portugal in Lisbon on Monday, 10 September 2018—put on a pretty good performance. Marco Benassi, Cristiano Biraghi, and Federico Chiesa have certainly given the mister plenty to think about and may have improved their standing substantially.
Chiesa is probably first choice on the right wing opposite Lorenzo Insigne, although Federico Bernardeschi has a shot to start there as well; either way, the good Fede should add to his 5 caps and has a chance to score his first goal as a full international. Biraghi will fight with veteran Domenico Criscito and newcomer Emerson Palmieri for minutes at leftback; neither he nor Palmieri have ever played for the Azzurri, while Criscito is the 2nd-oldest player in the side, so that could be a fascinating battle. Finally, Benassi will look for minutes in a wide-open midfield competition: Jorginho is certain to start, but Marco’s energy and versatility could see him get the nod over Giacomo Bonaventura, Lorenzo Pellegrini, Bryan Cristante, and Roberto Gagliardini. Fellow newcomers Nicolò Barella and Nicolò Zanioli will also hope to stake a claim in the run-up to the Euros.
The Beli Orlovi have Nations League qualifiers at Lithuania in Vilnius on Friday, 7 September 2018 and against Romania in Belgrade on Monday, 10 September 2018. Although he’s the youngest player in the team, Nikola Milenković is likely to start in central defense for both, as he’s quickly made himself indispensable to manager Mladen Krstajić and his form at club level has been scintillating; he’s going to end up with a lot more than his current 6 caps.
Edimilson Fernandes will return to the Rossocrociati at the behest of manager Vladimir Petković for a Nations League qualifier against Iceland on Saturday, 8 September 2018 in St. Gallen and a friendly against England in Leicester on Tuesday, 11 September 2018. Edi has a good chance to add to his 3 caps, as his box-to-box style fits perfectly with the side’s tactics, and although Granit Xhaka and Remo Freuler are probably ahead of him in the pecking order, Fernandes’ newfound ability to play in the holding role could give him a nudge upwards in Petković’s plans.
Bartłomiej Drągowski will link up with the Poland U21s again. It has to be a bit frustrating for him, as his way to minutes with the senior side is blocked by the world-class trio of Wojciech Szczęsny, Łukasz Skorupski, and Łukasz Fabiański. However, he’ll bide his time and keep working his way up the ladder; perhaps some strong performances in the U21 Euro qualifiers against the Faroe Islands on Friday, 7 September 2018 and at Finland on Tuesday, 11 September 2018 will help him along.
David Hancko will try to add to his 10 caps with the U21s in a friendly against Italy on Thursday, 6 September 2018 and a U21 Euro qualifier at Iceland on Tuesday, 11 September 2018. He’s one of the better players on the team—if you’ve already got 10 appearances with the U21s and you’re just 20, that means you’re very good—and it’ll be interesting to see if manager Adrian Gula uses him in the leftback role that Fiorentina have moved him to or in his former position in the heart of defence.
Alban Lafont was picked for the the U20 squad, but his hamstring strain means that he’ll be focusing on rehabbing instead. Of note, though, is the fact that a lot of French fans think he deserved a chance with the senior side, which illustrates just how well thought of he is in his home country.
Martin Graiciar will return to the U19 squad for friendlies at the Netherlands on Saturday, 8 September 2018, and at Switzerland on Tuesday, 11 September 2018. While he probably won’t play more than a half in either, we expect him to start at least one and he should be a decent bet to score, given that he’s got 3 goals and 10 appearances with the team.
Dušan Vlahović has been called in to train with the U19s, but won’t be participating in any matches as they don’t have any scheduled.
Honestly, not really any. I guess you could say that Kevin Mirallas not getting called for Belgium is a snub, but he hasn’t played for the national team in a minute. Vitor Hugo and Gerson are miles away from the Seleção despite a few good matches. Valentin Eysseric and Cyril Théréau aren’t even on the France radar, I wouldn’t think, while Jordan Veretout is probably on the radar, but only its farthest edges. Maxi Olivera, if his purported move to Mexico goes through, could get back in contention for a spot with Uruguay with a strong season, but that’s not happening while he’s in Florence.