The last international games in preparation for the World Cup are being played or just took place over the past couple of days as international squads attending the meeting in Qatar apply the last touches to their squads. We are more than a month from having our beloved Magpie football back, but at least we have a club that boasts a few world-renowned lads worth covering during the next few weeks!
Here’s a recap of all that went on between Wednesday, Nov. 16, and Thursday, Nov. 17, with more updates to come in the following days as games keep getting played with the WC kicking off next Sunday.
Fabian Schär (Switzerland)
Match: SWI vs Ghana (Friendly)
The odd game between two World Cup participants took place yesterday as the Swiss faced Ghana in a match that featured more substitutions than it generated actual interest. That said, both teams deployed a strong couple of starting XI including most of the players expected to start games when the ball gets rolling in Qatar in a few days' time.
Schar paired Man City center-back Manuel Akanji in the middle of the Swiss defensive line and logged 65 minutes of playing time. Switzerland enjoyed most of the possession (56%) through the game, completed more passes, and even got to kick five corners to Ghana’s two although it was the African side that got the better of the no. 15 FIFA-ranked nation got a 2-0 victory on Thursday.
Both goals scored by Ghana arrived after Schar had left the field with Mohammed Salisu getting into the scoreboard in the 70th minute and Antoine Semenyo sealing the deal in the 74th.
Albeit on a meaningless friendly, this is Switzerland’s first loss in three games after having defeated all of Spain, Portugal, and the Czech Republic in their most recent competitive games played.
Miguel Almirón (Paraguay)
Match: PAR vs Peru (Friendly)
A crazy friendly was played in Estadio Monumental, Peru, with the hosts defeating Paraguay by a single goal in a 1-0 match that saw two players (one from each side) getting a straight red card. There was a scuffle in the 84th minute after a Peruvian player kicked a stopped ball straight to Christian Cueva’s back before all hell broke loose. Fabian Balbuena (PAR) and Alexander Succar (PER) were the two men sent off the field.
Miggy left the field after the HT break with the game still tied at 0-0. Right before reaching the 50th minute of play Alex Valera put the hosts in front with a goal that ultimately was the deciding factor of this match. Neither Peru nor Paraguay qualified for this year’s World Cup and they will take on Bolivia and Colombia respectively next Sunday in friendly games instead of gearing up for the Big Cup.
Almirón was sent home after this game, though, as he suffered from “muscle overload” as the Paraguay coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto defined his fitness issues after the match against Peru on Thursday.
Ryan Fraser (Scotland)
Match: SCO vs Turkiye (Friendly)
It’s been 20 years since Turkiye qualified for a World Cup for the last time when they did so to appear in the 2002 edition of the tournament. Scotland is in an even worse situation, having appeared for the last time in the 1998 World Cup played in France and getting out of the tournament as early as in the group stage back then.
The British lads couldn’t defeat Turkiye falling 1-2 to the Turkish folks while landing goals from Ozan Kabak in the 40th minute and Cengiz Ünder in the 49th after the HT break. John McGinn scored the lone Scottish goal of the day when Ryan Fraser had already left the field after playing all 45 first-half minutes on Wednesday.
Scotland and Turkiye deployed their best starting XIs and clearly outplayed the Brits 16 shots to nine, 426 passes to 359, and 53% to 47% in the possession stats.
After being undefeated in four consecutive outings, Scottland finally dropped a game having lost a game for the last time against Ireland all the way back in June. Turkiye bounced back from a loss to the Faroe Islands in their most recent game played at the end of September as part of the UEFA Nations League.