Los Cafeteros nicked a 0-1 win at Paraguay before playing to a typically fiery 2-2 draw with Uruguay. The 4 points move them to the all-important 4th in the CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying table. They’re a point ahead of Argentina, and trail Ecuador by a single goal. Carlos Sanchez started and finished both matches, and did a brilliant job in not getting hurt or hurting Matias Vecino.
The Croats won both of their World Cup qualifiers to move to the top of Group I with 7 points, leading Iceland on goal difference. They hammered Kosovo 6-0, then edged Finland 1-0. Milan Badelj played all 180 minutes as the muscle in the Croatia midfield, while Nikola Kalinic came on in relief of Mario Mandzukic in both matches and scored a brilliant (bu meaningless) goal against Kosovo.
After an ugly 1-1 draw at Spain, the Azzuri scrapped their way back for a 2-3 win at Macedonia. The results see them keep pace with Spain to stay joint top of the table with 7 points, although they trail on goal difference. Federico Bernardeschi drew the start against Macedonia and assisted the opener with a perfectly-weighted corner kick before coming off in the 64th minute for Nicola Sansone. His energy helped keep Italy hungry, but he lost the ball a bit more than you’d like. Davide Astori, meanwhile, spent both matches on the bench.
A big 0-5 win at 10-man Armenia sees the Romanians climb to third in Group E with 5 points, 2 behind joint-leaders Montenegro and Poland. Ciprian Tatarusanu resumed his usual position between the sticks after missing their last fixtures with a head injury. While he didn’t have too much to do, he made a couple of routine saves, which should build up his confidence.
A 1-0 over Slovakia and a scoreless draw with England sees the Slovenians climb to third in Group F, trailing Lithuania for 2nd on goal difference. Josip Ilicic played all 180 minutes and assisted the only goal with a brilliant bit of dribbling, a nice run, and a defense-splitting pass to Rok Kronaveter. Against the Three Lions, he was the 2nd-best player on the pitch, creating numerous opportunities and nearly scoring on several occasions. Unfortunately, Torino man Joe Hart was simply brilliant and denied him every time. It’s bad news, because there’s no way Josip can have 3 excellent matches in a row.
La Celeste spanked Venezuela 3-0 before their 2-2 draw with Colombia, which saw them passed by Brazil for top spot in the table. Uruguay now sit 2nd with 20 points, just 1 off their larger neighbors. Matias Vecino played 24 minutes in relief of goalscorer Nicolas Lodeiro against Venezuela. Vecino did start against Colombia, where his energy in the middle helped their efforts quite a bit. He picked up a yellow card in the 76th minute, but more importantly kept himself healthy.
The Azzurini beat Poland 3-0 before falling to 2-4 to Switzerland. Chiesa came off the bench in both matches, playing 33 minutes in the against the Poles and the full second half against the Swiss. It’s heady times for the 18-year-old, and he’s doubtless on the right path.
The Jong Oranje played 3 friendlies, falling 2-0 to England, beating the USA 5-3, and slipping past Germany on penalties after finishing 2-2. Kevin Diks was subbed into the first 2 matches and started the final one, getting an hour with the starters. Every account of him I’ve found has said he looked quite good, so perhaps he’s earned a chance with the Viola now.
Bartlomiej Dragowski made his U21 debut in a 6-0 friendly win against Montenegro U21. It’s an honor for a 19-year-old to get called up to a higher youth level and indicates the raw talent Dragowski possesses. It’ll also hopefully keep him happy enough at Fiorentina until January, when he’s a good candidate to move elsewhere on loan for a few months to get some more football.
17-year-old Ianis Hagi also climbed an age level, making his U19 bow. His team lost to the 2-1 to the Netherlands and 3-1 to Norway before smashing San Marino 6-0, with Hagi starting the last one and notching a hat trick. The results leave them sitting 3rd in Group 2 and well off the pace to qualify for the U19 Euros. But maybe more Hagi is just what they need.