The 9 biggest games featuring United players this international break

Manchester United

Another international break, another extended period without Premier League football, the bane of every United fan. Although, considering the Red Devils’ recent run of form, I’m sure some fans will appreciate a break from the frustration.

Footballing associations are trying their best to make international games more exciting, injecting more competitions such as the China Cup and the Euro Nations League to limit the need for pointless, annoying friendlies.

As ever, this month’s international break is jam-packed with massive match-ups between some of the best national sides in the sport, and there’s plenty of football to satisfy anyone’s fix.

So sit back, stop venting your annoyance at Mourinho for just a few days at least, and enjoy watching some of United’s top talent compete alongside other world stars without the consequences.

Here are my top picks for fixtures involving United players this week:

Serbia vs Morocco

#together?

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While there’s only one Serbian name amongst the United ranks, what a name it is. For many – me included – Nemanja Matic has been United’s standout player this season, becoming the midfield figure that fans have been craving for years. He and his Serbian compadres host Morocco on Friday.

Serbia certainly have some talent in their squad, a name heavily linked to United in January was Lazio’s Sergej Milinković-Savić. The Eagles’ midfield maestro has scored 11 goals and assisted four in all competitions for his side this season and has become an integral part of Simone Inzaghi’s squad at just 23 years-old.

Although, Morocco also have some renowned names. Funnily enough, another name once linked with United is Medhi Benatia, the Morrocan rock has venture all over Europe, playing for footballing giants such as Juventus and Bayern Munich. While Premier League stars Nordin Amrabat and Sofiane Boufal could also feature in the game.

Scotland vs Costa Rica

Now, I know what you’re thinking, “How is Scotland vs Costa Rica a big game?” This fixture is more about what it means for a certain Scottish starlet.

News recently emerged that Scott McTominay had opted to play for the Scottish national team over England, and these reports further sent the footballing world into a spiral of disarray when Scottish boss, Alex McLeish, announced the 21-year-old in his squad for the upcoming slate of games.

The retirement of Scott Brown has left a massive hole in the Scottish midfield, one that could well be filled by McTominay. Alas, this is a conversation for another day, and reasons as to why Scott made the right/wrong choice in choosing Scotland are sure to be discussed at a later date.

Germany vs Spain

Here it is, the biggest clash of the week. Two of the decade’s most dominant nations battling it out head-to-head. Both sides have depth in abundance, so it’ll be interesting to see what starting 11s are fielded.

David De Gea has cemented himself as arguably the best goalkeeper in the world at the moment. Sadly though, the battle of the goalkeepers will have to wait until the world cup, as Germany’s Manuel Neuer is still out with a foot injury.

Sadly though, Juan Mata has not made it into Julen Lopetegui’s side, with Ander Herrera also missing out after still recovering from an injury he sustained against Sevilla.

Spain vs Argentina

Speaking of massive games involving Spain, they play another favourite to snatch this year’s World Cup in Argentina on Wednesday. Lionel Messi needs no introduction, and with the likes of Paulo Dybala, Gonzalo Higuain, and Sergio Aguero also fronting the Argentine attack, Spain’s defenders will have to dig deep to soften the blow.

United’s first-choice goalkeeper faces off against the side’s second in Sergio Romero. Despite only making sporadic appearances in cup games for United so far this season, Romero has still managed to be regularly chosen as his nation’s number one, with fellow United team-mate, Marcos Rojo, also becoming a core component in the Argentine defence.

 Netherlands vs England/England vs Italy

All three of these teams have something in common. Each have failed to reach the heights of previous generations, becoming shadows of their former selves – none more so than the Netherlands.

Daley Blind and co. host the Three Lions on Friday, and there are plenty of United players who could break into England’s matchday squad. Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard could front the English attack, with Chris Smalling and Ashley Young potentially handling duties at the other end of the pitch.

Gareth Southgate’s men then host Italy on Tuesday. United’s Matteo Darmian is usually a regular name in the Italian 11, though his severe lack of game-time this season could hinder his chances of breaking into the side.

France vs Colombia

The French-speaking contingent at United is among the most prominent. France’s Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial, as well as Belgium’s Romelu Lukaku have all found companionship through their love of milly-rocking and scoring goals to create one of the most heart-warming friendship groups in world football.

Both Martial and Pogba could feature in the upcoming game against Colombia, though along with the likes of Germany and Spain, there is plenty of competition to keep both players fighting for a place. Antoine Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe, and Ousmane Dembele to name a few.

Colombia have become one of the more under-appreciated sides to emerge this decade, with top-class talents such as former Red Devil, Radamel Falcao, James Rodriguez, and Juan Cuadrado among their ranks. It was nearly four years ago at the 2014 World Cup, where Rodriguez propelled himself into the global spotlight, a tournament that ultimately earned him a galactico move to Real Madrid later that summer.

After a turbulent spell at Los Blancos, James has found his footing once again for German giants, Bayern Munich. While there are certainly higher-profile games taking place this week, this is another to look out for, with both sides posing serious threats in attack.

Sweden vs Chile

Another game pitting two United stars against each other is Saturday’s clash between Sweden and Chile. Both Victor Lindelof and Alexis Sanchez are the only players at the club waving their countries’ flag (amidst Zlatan’s very recent departure from United), and it’ll be interesting to see the two players pitted against each other for the first time in their United careers.

Will Lindelof have learned Sanchez’s attacking tropes, or will Sanchez know exactly what to do get the better of the Swedes? Either way, I’m sure every United fan who isn’t from Sweden will be rooting for Chile to come out on top. Hopefully, the game will give Sanchez the confidence he needs to ‘officially’ kick-start his United career.

Belgium vs Saudi Arabia

And finally, the last of my picks to keep an eye out for during this international break is Belgium’s clash with Saudi Arabia on Tuesday night.

United’s main man up top this season, Romelu Lukaku, has been in fine form since the turn of the new year following a rocky spell halfway through the season. The big Belgian has been directly involved in 14 goals in as many appearances in 2018 across all competitions, adding to his tally of 28 goals and eight assists thus far.

However, Roberto Martinez is spoilt for choice when it comes to attacking options. Napoli’s Dries Mertens has enjoyed another rampant season in the Serie A, while Michy Batshuayi has been firing on all cylinders since his loan move to Borussia Dortmund in January.

Not to mention the likes of Premier League stars Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne, and Marouane Fellaini, the only thing keeping Belgium from a major international trophy has been the managerial struggles that have prevented the team from becoming anything more than a glorified ‘all the gear but no idea’ side.

Although, there are certainly more formidable opponents than Saudi Arabia for the Belgian Red Devils to face, this could be a first major stepping stone towards a successful World Cup this summer.