André Silva scored a goal in Portugal’s win while Ricardo Rodriguez was rested for Switzerland and Hakan Çalhanoğlu was banned for Turkey in the first round of October ’17 international football.
The FIFA World Cup qualification is at its critical phase and with one more match remaining, no Milan player has a guaranteed place in Russia in 2018.
On Tuesday at 21:45 CET in Lisbon there will be a big duel between Portugal and Switzerland to determine who wins Group B and goes straight to the WC and who has to go through the Playoff round.
Portugal had to beat Andorra on Saturday and coach Fernando Santos started with André Silva alone in attack, keeping Cristiano Ronaldo on the bench as the Real Madrid man was a yellow away from suspension. Silva, and the entire Portugal side, however, struggled without CR7, who entered on HT.
In the 63′ minute, Inter’s João Mário crossed the ball, André Silva made a slight touch on it and set up Ronaldo for Portugal’s opener. In the 86′ minute, it was the turn of the Milan man to score as Cristiano’s cross found the head of Danilo Pereira, who nodded the ball down to the far post to give Silva the easy tap-in. André was replaced in the 89′ minute after a decent – but not great – match.
Ricardo Rodriguez, meanwhile, was rested by Switzerland ahead of the Portugal tie. His teammates, however, did not struggle against Hungary and kept their perfect record of 9 wins out of 9 matches. Switzerland were assisted by a very, very poor performance from goalkeeper Péter Gulácsi and managed to score 5 times past Hungary, who also managed to get 2 balls past Yann Sommer.
On Friday night, Gian Piero Ventura’s Italy took on Macedonia. Leonardo Bonucci played the entire match while Gianluigi Donnarumma was kept on the bench. Italy, once again, played terrible football and the heat on Ventura is even greater than the one on Milan boss Vincenzo Montella.
Giorgio Chiellini scored for Italy in the 40′ minute but the Italian defense, made-up by Barzagli, Bonucci, Chiellini and Gigi Buffon, was beaten by Palermo’s Aleksandar Trajkovski in the 77′ minute. The whole Italy team was awful to watch but La Gazzetta picked Bonucci as the Flop of the Match.
Italy have another match on Monday against Albania in Shkoder (20:45 CET) but it’s meaningless since this Macedonia draw means that Italy have booked themselves a place in the Playoffs while Spain won the group. According to today’s GdS, Ventura will play 4-2-4, with Gigio on the bench.
On the same evening, Hakan Çalhanoğlu watched from the stands as his Turkey teammates were defeated 3-0 by Iceland in Eskisehir. The Milan midfielder was suspended and could not help his national team, which lost all hope to qualify to the World Cup and has been eliminated. Turkey’s next match is against Finland but it’s only for the protocol. Hakan is banned for the derby as well.
Still on Friday, Franck Kessié played the 90 minutes in Ivory Coast’s 0-0 draw with Mali. Since they don’t have another match until November (against Morocco – a crucial encounter to decide which of the two will go to Russia in the summer), Kessié returned to Milanello early and has more time to rest and prepare for the Derby della Madonnina next week at Stadio San Siro, which will be sold-out.
In the night between Thursday and Friday, Cristian Zapata and Colombia were defeated 2-1 by Gustavo Gomez and Paraguay. The two Milan center backs played the full match for their respective national teams. The South American group is the craziest and on the remaining matchday, in the night between Tuesday and Wednesday, Colombia play Peru away while Paraguay host Venezuela.
Lucas Biglia and Argentina can find themselves out of the World Cup as well. The midfielder played 90 minutes in the 0-0 draw with Peru. Argentina are currently in 6th place in the group, and they have an absolutely crucial match against Ecuador on the night between Tuesday and Wednesday.
Moving to the Italy U21 squad, Patrick Cutrone, Manuel Locatelli and Davide Calabria all started and played a big part in the Azzurrini’s 6-2 win over Hungary U21. Cutrone scored twice (18′, 25′ pk) and assisted one (29′) before being replaced on half-time while Locatelli played 60 minutes and Calabria completed 90 minutes. They face Morocco U21 for a friendly on October 10th at 18:30 CET.
Niccolò Zanellato meanwhile did not take part in Italy U20’s 5-1 heavy defeat to England U20, while Matteo Gabbia played 180 minutes in Italy U19’s wins over Moldova last Wednesday (4-0) and against Estonia (2-1) yesterday. They have another match on October 10th, as part of the 2018 UEFA European Under-19 Championship qualification, as they face Sweden U19 in Jönköping at 18:00 CET.
After the second round of October 17 international football, the players will be back at Milanello to train hard ahead of the Derby on Sunday, which they have to win after two back-to-back defeats.