Just because it is international week doesn’t mean the action stops – there is loads going on over the next 10 days as the top teams across the continent prepare for Euro 2016.
Roy Hodgson has some tough calls to make about his team, France have introduced two of the Premier League’s top players into their squad and World Cup-winning Germany coach Joachim Low has made a big call about England’s chances of success this summer.
Fraser Forster and Jack Butland have been in superb form this season and one or both of them could get a chance to stake a claim for England after injury ruled out established No.1 Joe Hart from the friendly games against Germany and Holland.
Southampton goalkeeper Forster broke a club record by going 708 minutes without conceding – a run that saw him keep seven consecutive clean sheets.
Butland, meanwhile, has broken through as Stoke’s No.1 and one of the top goalkeepers in the Premier League this season, the 23-year-old keeping 10 clean sheets in 31 games to date.
Diego Costa’s omission from the Spain squad is to do with fitness rather than disciplinary issues, Vicente Del Bosque has insisted.
David De Gea, Cesar Azpilicueta, Juan Mata, Cesc Fabregas, David Silva and Pedro do make the cut and although Hector Bellerin continues with the Under-21s rather than senior squad Del Bosque says that he has been impressed by the Arsenal defender.
Wales take on Northern Ireland this week without their key men – Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey.
Their absence gives Chris Coleman the perfect opportunity to experiment with his line-up and squad in order to make sure Wales don’t rely too heavily on just two players.
There are 10 Premier League players in France’s squad for the friendly games against Holland and Russia including a first call-up for Leicester’s N’Golo Kante and a return for Dimitri Payet of West Ham.
Kante comes in at the expense of Manchester United’s Morgan Schneiderlin with coach Didier Deschamps singing his praises.
“He’s a complete midfielder,” Deschamps said. “He has a great approach to recovering the ball – to sense the path of it and to position himself well. But he doesn’t just do that. He has the energy to play what they call in England a box-to-box role. He’s capable of taking part in attacks too.
Hugo Lloris, Laurent Koscielny, Bacary Sagna, Mamadou Sakho, Yohan Cabaye, Moussa Sissoko, Anthony Martial and Olivier Giroud are the other inclusions.
England are among the favourites to win Euro 2016, according to Germany coach Joachim Low.
The sides meet in Berlin on 26 March, and ahead of the game Low was talked up the Three Lions chances of success this summer, saying: “For me, England and Italy are, along with Spain, Belgium, France and us, among the favourites for the tournament.
“England have undergone a lot of change and are playing dynamic and successful football with lots of young players under Roy Hodgson. They are very consistent and clinical.”
Low has named an extended 27-man squad that includes Premier League stars Emre Can, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Mesut Ozil alongside the likes of Manuel Neuer, Mats Hummels, Marco Reus, Toni Kroos and Thomas Muller but Jerome Boateng and Ilkay Gundogan are left out due to injury.
Belgium’s squad is severely depleted for the friendly game against Portugal with Eden Hazard, Vincent Kompany, Kevin De Bruyne and Jan Vertonghen missing.
However, there is still a strong Premier League core with Thibaut Courtois, Simon Mignolet, Toby Alderweireld, Christian Benteke, Nacer Chadli, Moussa Dembele,Marouane Fellaini, Romelu Lukaku and Divock Origi included for the No.1 team in the FIFA rankings.