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International Friendlies – The Talking Points

With the Premier League season kicking into swing last weekend, the international friendlies seem long gone. However, before they disappear into the sunset completely, we take a look at the many points to come out of these games.

Altidore continues golden run

With their first team squad restored, the States picked up a more than impressive win over Bosnia – a side who should join them In Brazil. Jozy Altidore proved the star as his hat-trick guided Jurgen Klinsmann’s men back from two nil down to claim a 4-3 win. This was the striker’s seventh goal in four games for his country, highlighting the 23-year-old’s vast improvements over the past twelve months.

It won’t just be USA supporters that will be taken pleasure in the powerful striker’s recent form, Sunderland fans will also be pleased to see their new seven million pound man in good early season nick.

Brazil stutter after stellar summer

After a summer in which Brazil firmly reasserted themselves on the international game through their Confederations Cup success, the World Cup hosts were brought back down to earth by an uninspiring defeat in Switzerland.

The Swiss should comfortably make Brazil next summer given the position they are in and whilst there will be more fancied and intriguing sides to choose as a surprise package, they possess a side as strong as they have done in several years. It would be foolish to read too much into this result but Switzerland they are looking in excellent shape.

England and Scotland bat away meaningless friendly talk

The build up to this round of friendlies was largely based around why such perceived meaningless games were being played so close to the big Premier League kick off. Yet that talking point was not so much pushed to one sides but smashed out of the park, as the great old rivals played out one of the most intense and competitive friendlies in recent times.

Any managers concerned about the impact of this games on their players prior to the kick off would do well to realise that such a competitive work out could have only been a good thing in preparation for the start of the domestic campaign.

Argentina remind us of their threat

Well on their way to booking their place in Brazil hassle free, the Argentines have slipped under many peoples radar in regards to being amongst the favourites – with the majority favouring Spain, Germany or Brazil.

Alejandro Sabella’s side though are in good of a shape and are as settled as they have done for a number of years – a point highlighted by their impressive win over Italy last week. Gonzalo Higuain currently the leading scorer in qualification, has for now at least cemented the main striker slot and he was again on target in the victory over the Auzzuri.

With the big tournament now less than a year away the Argentines look well set to mount a long overdue challenge.

France and Belgium fail to follow Europe’s lead

Whilst England against Scotland and Sweden against Norway highlighted the merit of friendlies against neighbours – competing in two thrilling contests that offered up eleven goals between them, France and Belgium failed to pick up the relevant memo as they played out a less than an exciting 0-0 draw.

Much was expected in the clash between the talent spilling Belgium’s and their French rivals, yet this was definitely one for the evidence book of those questioning the merit of these games.

Japan continue struggles

Defeat against Uruguay represented Japan’s fifth successive defeat against non-Asian sides – perhaps highlighting that they might not be quite the dark horses for Brazil that many are billing them as.

The Confederations Cup represented a stark lesson as they were beaten in all three games despite largely encouraging performances, this latest defeat to a Uruguayan side some way of being secure of a spot in Brazil unfortunately followed along a similar pattern.