Frank Lampard will, on the whole, be delighted with how his players have performed on international duty this week.
Club managers often fear the worst when their players set off to play for their national sides.
In a period of uncertainty and with injuries racking up at other clubs, Chelsea can be grateful that many of their players will return to the club in both good health and good form.
Goalkeepers and defenders
Edouard Mendy continued his terrific start to the season. He kept two clean sheets against Guinea-Bissau as Senegal qualified for AFCON 2021 with 2-0 and 1-0 victories. Kepa Arrizabalaga was an unused substitute for Spain in all three of their matches, falling below former Athletic Bilbao teammate Unai Simon in the pecking order.
Star defender Thiago Silva captained Brazil to victories over Venezuela and Uruguay, 1-0 and 2-0 respectively. He was particularly impressive against Uruguay, winning all five duels and making four clearances and two interceptions.
Silva’s central-defensive partner Kurt Zouma only played once for France in a disappointing 2-0 defeat to Finland. Fellow defender Antonio Rudiger featured for Germany against Ukraine in a 3-1 win.
However, he missed a crushing 6-0 defeat to Spain. Rudiger also started a 1-0 friendly victory over the Czech Republic. Meanwhile, Andreas Christensen played 90 minutes in Denmark’s 2-1 victory over Iceland.
In the full-back area, Reece James impressed during England’s 3-0 procession over Ireland. He missed the Nations League game in Belgium due to suspension, a game in which Ben Chilwell came off as a precaution.
Emerson Palmieri started three times for Italy in victories over Estonia, Poland and Bosnia. He impressed against Bosnia with three key passes, two shots and three tackles. Should Chilwell’s injury reoccur, Emerson reminded Lampard of his qualities for Italy and could be a useful rotation option.
Marcos Alonso, Cesar Azpilicueta and Fikayo Tomori were not selected.
N’Golo Kante starred for France against Portugal with a Man of the Match performance. Five tackles and five interceptions for Kante, as well as an 88.4% pass completion rate, ensured he was the stand-out performer. Kante scored the only goal in this game to complete an impressive show.
Equally impressive but perhaps more surprising was Mateo Kovacic’s two-goal salvo for Croatia against Portugal. With only two goals in 107 appearances for Chelsea, it was a surprise to see Kovacic score twice in one game. Despite this, Croatia lost 3-2 to Portugal. Kovacic started twice for Croatia, gaining valuable game time which he’s been short of this season.
Jorginho scored a penalty in Italy’s victory over Poland, as well as achieving a sensational 95.1% pass completion. He, like Kovacic and Kante, gained some form ahead of a busy period.
Mason Mount starred in England’s comfortable win against Ireland, however struggled in an attacking role against Belgium. This typified Mount’s season, looking comfortable in midfield but struggling out wide. Mount should be competing for a place in midfield, rather than as a forward. His goal against Iceland in a 4-0 win further confirmed his credentials as a midfielder. A goal and 90.7% pass completion proved his class in a midfield role.
With Kai Havertz and Christian Pulisic missing due to coronavirus and a hamstring injury respectively, it was Hakim Ziyech who impressed in this department. The Moroccan registered three goals and two assists for his country, continuing his fantastic form. Lampard will hope his output remains at such a high level.
Injuries and coronavirus could present opportunities to Callum Hudson-Odoi. He was instrumental in England Under 21s cruising past Andorra and Albania. The youngster, who endured a difficult 2019/20, can use this as a catalyst to make his mark. Goals in both games should boost Hudson-Odoi’s confidence at a time Lampard will have to rely on him.
Timo Werner featured twice for Germany, notching two goals, four shots and one key pass in their 3-1 win against Ukraine. He was a peripheral figure in a crushing 6-0 defeat to Spain, although in such a humiliating defeat, we can hope he didn’t expend excessive energy.
Elsewhere, Olivier Giroud featured in all three of France’s matches. He also starred, recording two goals, six shots and a key pass in an impressive display against Sweden. Having played only 183 minutes for Chelsea this season, both Giroud and Lampard will be delighted that he showed some form. Giroud’s national manager, Didier Deschamps, has hinted that Giroud should leave Chelsea in January ahead of Euro 2021. Lampard is sure to be disappointed with this constant shadow emerging from Giroud’s camp on international duty.
Frank Lampard, therefore, should be happy with his players’ exploits on international duty. While Chilwell’s injury could cause concern, Chelsea picked up no injuries nor coronavirus problems, to date. While doubts circle over Giroud’s future, Lampard will be happy that his striker gained form. He will be delighted that many of his players either maintained or gained form during the break. If they can continue this into the remainder of the calendar year, then Chelsea should be able to maintain their recent run.