International Heads Held High
The final international break before the squad announcements for the belated European Championships is over as we switch our focus back to the business end of the domestic season.
Again, we saw some stage results as some of the so-called bigger nations faltered, Germany losing 2-1 to North Macedonia in a first World Cup Qualification defeat for twenty-years, Spain were held at 1-1 home by Greece and France the same score line by Ukraine.
England had no such issues winning all three of their Qualifiers, but Nick Pope lost his record of consecutive clean sheets with a little help from John Stones.
Pope staked his claim for the number one jersey at the Euros, although it is likely Jordan Pickford will retain his place when he returns from injury.
Who else had a successful international break? This week we look at the winners of the March international break.
Kasper Schmeichel - Denmark
No side had a better three game break than Denmark, who won an accumulative 14-0, including an 8-0 drubbing of Moldova on Sunday and a brilliant 4-0 win away to Austria on Wednesday evening.
Schmeichel will return to his club side, who face runaway leaders Manchester City on Saturday, in fine fettle after coming back without conceding a goal and playing every minute of all three matches.
Denmark needed a playoff victory in Ireland to secure a spot at the 2018 World Cup, but already four points ahead of their nearest challengers, Schmeichel will be confident of captaining the Danes to Qatar as group champions.
Gianluigi Donnarumma - Italy
Still sore from their failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, Italy are well on track to Qatar with three solid 2-0 wins and defensive displays befitting of their quintessential style.
Donnarumma has a big remainder of 2021 ahead of him, with his club future still up in the air, put continuous impressive displays for the international side will do his chances of an improved contract or big money move in the summer no harm at all.
The AC Milan ‘keeper made some good saves to deny Northern Ireland in a spirited performance on Saturday and was present for their wins in Bulgaria and Lithuania.
Hugo Lloris - France
Despite Les Blues dropping points in their opening qualifier with Ukraine, Hugo Lloris has had a pretty successful international break.
The Spurs man became France’s second most capped player behind Thierry Henry, playing his 123rd game for the national side away to Bosnia and Herzegovina on Wednesday night.
His landmark appearance was marked by a magnificent performance, where his side had him to thank for a number of quality saves in a lackluster team display as Antoine Griezmann’s solitary goal was enough to gain France a vital three points.