The last round of internationals before the end of the Premier League season ends were played over the past week as most of the top nations gear up to the 2018 FIFA World Cup by playing friendlies. As usual, a whole lot of FPL players were on active duty so here we are with a quick round-up.
We start the round-up with one of the World Cup’s favourites Brazil, as they played two and won two friendlies impressively. Manchester City’s Gabriel Jesus was on target as they beat Germany 1-0 – it was his first goal since returning from an injury and he look set to challenge Sergio Aguero for the starting spot in City. Chelsea’s Willian provided the assist as he look set to end his season strong.
Brazil’s continental rivals Argentina had a mixed outing. They defeated Italy before being crushed 6-1 by Spain, sending some alarm bells. Chelsea’s reserve goalkeeper Willy Caballero made his international debut (at age 36!) but let in 5 of the 6 goals to Spain. City’s Nicolas Otamendi found the net for Argentina in an otherwise torrid afternoon.
Back to the Home Nations, which typically features a lot of FPL players. WBA’s Matt Phillips scored his first goal for Scotland before he returns to his club to face the stark reality of relegation. Wales played two games in China and Burnley’s Sam Vokes found the net twice against the Chinese. As for England, Manchester United’s Jesse Lingard was on great form over two games, scoring once and providing an assist. Leicester’s Jamie Vardy also found the net. From the goalkeeper front, Everton’s Jordan Pickford and Stoke’s Jack Butland both played and look set to vie for England’s number one.
Elsewhere, United’s Paul Pogba found reprieve from his poor club form by producing a good performance and scoring a free-kick against Russia. He also provided an assist in the same game. It was his first goal (or assist) in this calendar year.
His club-mate Romelu Lukaku scored twice as Belgium defeated Saudi Arabia 4-0, with City’s Kevin de Bruyne also finding the net in that game. Another FPL player scoring a brace is West Ham’s Marko Arnautovic, against Slovenia.
Liverpool’s Virgil van Djik will not be going to the World Cup but he starts a new chapter of his international career by officially becoming the national captain. He was particularly brilliant against Portugal, where he kept Cristiano Ronaldo quiet and also scored. He kept a clean sheet in that game too.
Finally, everyone’s season favourite Liverpool’s Mo Salah scored again – a net left-foot strike against Portugal but Ronaldo stole the show in that game with two injury time headers.