Five games you should watch during the international break

The 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign gets underway this week but are there any games worth watching?

While international football is not everyone's cup of tea, there are a few eye-catching fixtures which are certainly worth keeping an eye on.

Belgium vs Wales - Wednesday 19:45 GMT

When thinking about the most memorable moments in international football, what springs to mind? Zidane's headbutt? Maradona's hand of god? Beckham's free kick?

They're all great moments but let's face it, they all pale in comparison to Hal Robson-Kanu's goal against Belgium in the 2016 European Championship quarterfinal.

html) */?>

That Cruyff turn. That finish. It was footballing poetry. But most importantly, it was the goal which sent Wales into the semifinal. 

Memories of that game - and that goal - will come flooding back as Belgium and Wales clash for the first time since that historic 2016 encounter.

The two nations have been drawn in the same qualifying group and the Red Devils will be desperate for revenge.

Gareth Bale in action against Belgium back in 2016
Gareth Bale in action against Belgium back in 2016

Belgium are currently the number one ranked side in the world after winning 16 of their last 18 games.

What's more, they've beaten some decent teams along the way including England, Russia, Denmark and 2019 Nations League semifinalists, Switzerland.

Many have argued that Belgium's golden generation has passed its peak however, with players such as Kevin De Bruyne, Thorgan Hazard, Dries Mertens and Romelu Lukaku in the squad, they're still a dangerous outfit.

Kevin De Bruyne will be looking to lead his side to victory against Wales
Kevin De Bruyne will be looking to lead his side to victory against Wales

Wales, on the other hand, are currently ranked 17 places lower than their opponents and off-field issues have left them without manager Ryan Giggs.

This is certainly not the same side that took Euro 2016 by storm and their chances this Wednesday won't be helped by the absence of injured Aaron Ramsey.

Looking at the betting, the hosts are the overwhelming favourites at 4/11. That's no surpirse as it's hard to make a case for Wales at this moment - even when factoring in Gareth Bale's return to form.

Backing the home side is the sensible way to go but only if you can find the right price. 

Betting: Belgium to win by two goals at 3/1 (PaddyPower)

Scotland vs Austria - Thursday 19:45 GMT

The ongoing pandemic - and an awkward fixture list - have left the Austrian national side in limbo.

Manager Franco Foda was initially forced to call-up one of the largest squads ever assembled in international football - a total of 43 players.

html) */?>

Why did this happened? That can be answered in one word - quarantine.

Nineteen players in the Austrian squad play for Bundesliga clubs. Current protocols in Germany say that anyone visiting the Untied Kingdom must undertake a 14-day quarantine upon return. 

Bundesliga clubs have the power to block their players from traveling to Glasgow and as a result, Foda was been forced to assemble this enormous squad. Since then, travel restrictions changed and the squad has been scaled down to 29 men. 

Uncertainty over player availability is unlikely to have helped the Austrians in their preparations. But on the other hand, that's great news for Scotland.

Scotland boss Steve Clarke has ‘100 per cent sympathy’ for Austria
Scotland boss Steve Clarke has ‘100 per cent sympathy’ for Austria

Group F isn't exactly the group of death (Austria, Scotland, Moldova, Denmark, Israel and Faroe Islands) and the draw represents Scotland's best chance of qualifying for a World Cup in over two decades.

In spite of their squad issues, the bookmakers have priced Austria as the favourites to win. If there was ever a time to go against the bookies, it's now.

There is a lot of quality in Steve Clarke's squad and they are more than capable of winning; especially on home turf.

Betting: Scotland to win at 23/10 (bet365)

Sweden vs Georgia - Thursday 19:45 GMT

This game is not about Sweden. This game is not about Georgia. This game is about one man - Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Five years after his retirement from Sweden's national side, the AC Milan ace is set to make his return in this upcoming international break… and we can't wait.

It's hard to say whether Ibrahimovic will play a major role in the two games against Georgia and Kosovo however, even if the big Swede comes off the bench for five minutes, it will certainly be worth watching.

html) */?>

The former Manchester United, Barcelona and PSG striker has proved that he is box-office; even at the age of 39.

The international break has a reputation for being a bit boring but if anyone's going to lighten it up, its going to be Zlatan.

Betting: Zlatan Ibrahimovic to score first at 12/5 (Betfred)

Republic of Ireland vs Luxembourg - Saturday 19:45 GMT

Okay, I agree. At first glance this fixture doesn't exactly get the juices flowing. But don't scroll past just yet.

If there's going to be an upset during this international break, it could very well take place at the Aviva Stadium this weekend.

Republic of Ireland full-back Seamus Coleman (right) is sent off during the 2-0 Euro 2020 qualifier defeat in Switzerland
Republic of Ireland full-back Seamus Coleman (right) is sent off during the 2-0 Euro 2020 qualifier defeat in Switzerland

The Republic of Ireland have been in shocking form. Stephen Kenny's men didn't win a single game in 2020 despite being involved in eight fixtures. However, the most damning statistic is that they haven't scored a single goal in seven straight games.

Ireland's last goal came in a 1-1 draw with Bulgaria back in March 2020. Their last taste of victory, meanwhile, came all the way back in November 2019 when they beat New Zealand.

Luxembourg, on the other hand, have been quietly improving over the last few years.

When Luc Holtz became manager of the national team in 2010, Luxembourg were 134th in the FIFA rankings. The team shot up to 83rd in 2017 and they've been around that mark ever since. Not bad for a nation with a population of 600,000.

Republic of Ireland in action against Wales back in 2020
Republic of Ireland in action against Wales back in 2020

Unlike the Boys in Green, Luxembourg won three games last year; two of those away from home. While the level of opposition may have been lower than Ireland's, they will at least remember what winning a game feels like.

On paper, this is a great opportunity for Ireland to get out of their slump. But on the other hand, there is a huge level of expectations on their shoulders - something that the Luxembourg players don't have to deal with.

With that in mind, we're going for a major upset to take place at around the 13/2 mark.

Betting: Luxembourg to win at 13/2 (bet365)

England vs Poland - March 31, Wednesday 19:45 GMT

The main event of this international break will see England host Poland at Wembley.

This is a fixture that not only has a lot history but it will also provide a shared platform for two of arguably the biggest strikers in world football.

html) */?>

Premier League's joint top scorer, Harry Kane, and Bundesliga's legendary goal getter, Robert Lewandowski, are both regarded as the best in the business. This week, we'll finally see the pair go head-to-head.

But more importantly, this game could have major implications on World Cup qualification. Poland and England are the two standout nations in this qualifying group and the Poles will no doubt give Gareth Southgate's men a run for their money.

Tottenham Hotspur's Harry Kane will go head-to-head with Robert Lewandowski
Tottenham Hotspur's Harry Kane will go head-to-head with Robert Lewandowski

The Three Lions can't afford anything less than a win and the pressure is firmly on to deliver.

For neutrals, this promises to be a great clash considering some of the names that could take part. However for England, this could be one nervous evening.

Betting: England to win 2-1 at 15/2 (bet365)

Latest Soccer Videos