A look at the issues facing the major European nations after the first round ofand looking ahead to the European Championships:
Just when Germany seemed back on track, calamity happened. On Wednesday, a 2-1 loss to North Macedonia was Germany’s first defeat in the, qualifying for 20 years. That cast into doubt all of Joachim Löw’s work to rebuild the team and the decision to let him stay until the . A formidable group, including France and Portugal, awaits Germany at the delayed Euro 2020. It’s worth remembering that the last time Germany lost a World Cup qualifier, it the following year, finishing runner-up to Brazil in 2002. The Germans are still favorites to qualify from their group this , given Iceland and Romania have also had troubled starts with losses to surprise leader Armenia.
At least France. Hugo Lloris underlined his status with a remarkable point-blank save against Bosnia-Herzegovina, among the best of his career. Raphael Varane remains a commanding figure in central defense, while the fleet-footed Antoine Griezmann links midfield and attacks skillfully. But the fact Deschamps issues in the episode. Olivier Giroud’s lack of games for Chelsea hurts his sharpness, and Kylian Mbappe has been bizarrely lackluster. in his past four games for France, including a missed penalty. Encouragingly, though, winger Ousmane Dembele made a scoring return and looks full of confidence.
Diogo Jota has broken up Liverpool’s long-established front three in an impressive – if injury-affected – first season at Anfield; he is starting to look the part at the international level, too. Over the past week, OTA was the bright spot for Portugal to score three goals over the three games to outshine fast become Portugal’s most talented team in years, with Ronaldo supported by the skill and vision of playmakers Bernardo Silva, Bruno Fernandes, and João Félix, and now the incisiveness and pace of Jota. All eyes, naturally, remain trained on Ronaldo, who continues his quest toward the all-time scoring record for a men’s national team. His goal against Luxembourg left him six away from tying the 109 Iran’s Ali Daei scored.. Going into the European Championship, Jota looks to have forced his way into what has
England coach Gareth Southgate is inching closer to his preferred team, certainly in attack, where Raheem Sterling, Harry Kane, and Phil Foden look like his ideal trio. The most significant question marks hang over who is the first-choice left-back out of Luke Shaw and Ben Chilwell, whether Trent Alexander-Arnold can force hisinto the squad despite a raft of solid right-back alternatives, and who joins the blossoming Declan Rice in central midfield. The biggest winner from the past week might be , who now appears to be a lock in the attacking midfield role like he is at Chelsea.