The second round of games pertaining to the UEFA Nations League is now in the books. On top of that, international sides such as New Zealand and Brazil kept competing on their own and playing friendlies all around the globe, which made for more stuff to cover here at Coming Home Newcastle as the Magpies surely are a club featuring multiple internationals from the most diverse of places.
With all of that in mind, here is the second roundup of international games coming after the first one last weekend and before the last two later arrive later this week and earlier next week.
Chris Wood (New Zealand)
Match: NZE vs Peru (Friendly)
It couldn’t be. The Kiwis entered Sunday’s game without many chances of pulling off the upset against the Peruvian international team. And that’s precisely how things ended, as Peru defeated New Zealand by a slim margin putting up a simple 1-0 on the scoreboard, enough to call it a victory. Chris Wood started for his nation adding another cap to his already third-highest such mark among countrymen. Wood is sitting at 66 games for the Kiwis, trailing only Simon Elliott (69) and Ivan Vicelich (88), both of them already retired.
Peru scored the only goal of the game in the 69th minute thanks to an effort by Gianluca Lapadula, part of the Italian Serie B side Benevento. Although not really a top-of-order international squad, the Peruvians can count on the likes of Lapadula, Christian Cueva, and Andre Carrillo, probably all above or at the very least on par with the options available for New Zealand’s manager Danny Hay.
Wood got to play 70 minutes on Sunday and got off the pitch the minute Peru scored that goal with 20-year-old Ben Waine entering the pitch in substitution of Newcastle’s striker, and New Zealand’s most prolific goalscorer (33). The Kiwis will play another South American side next week (June 14) when they face Costa Rica as part of the World Cup Qualification, Inter-Confederation Playoffs. That’s far from a friendly against Peru, so Chris Wood & Co. better step up their game then.
Bruno Guimaraes (Brazil)
Match: BRA vs Japan (Friendly)
Not the greatest of spells for Bruno while featuring for Brazil, this one. The Tite-led Canarinha kept counting on Bruno and gave him another call-up for the international set of friendlies Brazil is playing in Asia. That said, the freshest Magpie Legend only played 10 minutes against South Korea in the first match and just did so for five minutes against Japan last Monday. Not the largest of samples to assess his contributions to the squad ahead of the World Cup, if anything.
Brazil only has another game to play before the start of the World Cup—at least that has been announced and known for a long time—and that’s just their abandoned match against Argentina from earlier this year, which will take place next September 22nd with the South American CONMEBOL group already settled when it comes to the first (Brazil) and second (Argentina) places in it ahead of Qatar’s tourney.
Bruno could only see his team finish off a Japanese side that surrendered a penalty to the Canarinha that was in turn transformed by Neymar from the PK spot. Brazil dominated the possession 55% to 45%, shot on target five times to Japan’s zero, and starting goalkeeper Alisson had to barely intervene in the play of his international side with Japan creating zero to no danger at all with their tamed approach to Monday’s game.
Kieran Trippier (England)
Match: ENG vs Germany (UEFA Nations League, Group A3)
After warming the bench for the first game of the Three Lions 2022 Nations League season—against Hungary last weekend—Trippier started from the get-go for England on Tuesday facing Germany away from home on the left side of the defensive line. That’s correct. Kyle Walker took on right-wing-back duties and that moved Trips all the way to the other flank in a line that also featured John Stones and veteran Harry Maguire.
Trippier completed the 90 minutes of play and was the best player on the British side playing the full 90 minutes—other than Jordan Pickford—as far as Sofa Score graded the men involved in this game. Trippier’s 7.4 was only topped by Pickford’s 7.5 and David Raum’s 7.5 from the German side. That was because Trips completed 34 of his 41 attempted passes while clearing four balls, intercepting three, and winning a tackle over the duration of the match.
England could only draw 1-1 with Germany after trailing for 88 minutes only to see Harry Kane win a VAR-checked penalty in the 86th converted after the decision was made two minutes later. Germany got ahead in the scoreboard with 50 minutes on the clock thanks to a Jonas Hofmann goal assisted by Joshua Kimmich. With this result and the loss to Hungary, England is currently sitting at the bottom of its group with just one point won compared to Germany’s two, Hungary’s three, and group-leader Italy’s four. England plays Italy next, on June 11.
Fabian Schär (Switzerland)
Match: CHE vs Portugal (UEFA Nations League, Group A2)
After losing 2-1 to the Czech Republic and although not incredibly pressed yet, Switzerland faced a tough test against Portugal in a match that called for, at the very least, a draw for the Swiss to remain in competition in their UEFA NL group. Of course, there was not a single chance for them to draw with—let alone defeat—the giants of Portugal in what turned out to be an absolute demolition by 4-0 in favor of the Iberian nation.
The scoreboard was already showing a very unbalanced 3-0 by the halftime and things only got worst for the Swiss in the second half as Joao Cancelo punctuated the overall result in the 68th minute after Cristiano Ronaldo (x2) and William Carvalho (who opened the score) had already written their names in the Nations League history books when it comes to this game. Oh, and all of that happened with our beloved Magpie Fabian Schar staying on the pitch defending (?) the center of Switzerland’s back line for the full 90 minutes. Ugh.
Only Jordan Lotomba (left-wing) was graded worse than Schar on SofaScore among Swiss players in the game against Portugal. For the second time this month, Schar wasn’t entirely bad on defense (five clearances, three interceptions, one tackle, no plays in which he was dribbled past) but he only won three of eight duels while not providing a lot of great ball-playing, often relying on safe passes to bring the ball out the danger zone without much creativity to them. Portugal was the heavy favorite here and Ronaldo came hungry for goals, so no real surprises from the final outcome.
Emil Krafth (Sweden)
Match: SWE vs Norway (UEFA Nations League, Group B2)
After getting past Slovenia without much trouble, Sweden suffered a narrow 2-1 defeat by Norway thanks mostly to the Norge God Erling. Or maybe... it was because Emil Kraft started (and played the full 90 minutes) for the Swedes? With the odds in favor, Sweden was already down by one in the 20th minute thanks to a Haaland penalty kick goal, and they conceded another one to the new Citizen when the clock hit the 69th round.
Only a super late Anthony Elanga—yes, it definitely was a day for those with real estate ownership deals in Manchester—goal brought Sweden closer to a draw, as the United winger scored his one on extra time with 92 minutes gone and not many more moments left to be played. Krafth graced the bench to start last time out, but he started this one and he was mediocre. Krafth’s 5.7 grade was the second-worst among teammates only below Joakim Nilsson’s 5.5. Yikes.
Krafth was his usual self with a clear wing-back role covering the full right-wing from one goal line to the other with constant up-and-down vertical efforts. All of that went for nothing, though, as Emil only completed 51 passes, barely won half of his duels (five of nine), and more than anything committed the penalty that helped Norway take and never again surrender their lead. Not the greatest of days for Krafth this one.
Jeff Hendrick (Ireland)
Match: IRL vs Ukraine (UEFA Nations League, Group B12)
Ireland kept digging itself a Nations League tomb on Wednesday after falling to Ukraine by 1-0. The Irish also dropped points to Armenia with the same mediocre result prior to yesterday’s game, thus ranking fourth and dead-last in their group with all of Scotland, Ukraine, and Armenia having three points each (SCO and UKR with just one game played to make things worse).
Hendrick logged 90 more minutes in Irish threads yesterday but he wasn’t of much help to his side as he could only finish the match getting a 6.6 grade by SofaScore’s algorithm, the joint-third worst among players from his nation. Although Ireland held Ukraine to a first-half 0-0 draw, the latter found their way to a goal in the 47th minute putting the final 1-0 up in the scoreboard thanks to Viktor Tsygankov bagging the lone goal of the game.
Hendrick misfired a bunch of passes (36-of-46 completions, 78%) while only completing two of six attempted long balls. He could only shoot a couple of times and on both occasions, the ball got blocked before reaching the goal line whether that’d had been on or off-target, and he lost possession of the ball a grand total of 14 times to paint a rather murky picture on Wednesday’s game. Hendrick is returning to Newcastle after spending the second half of last season with QPR, but his chances of staying in Tyneside are low to nonexistent at this point.