International breaks often illicit mixed emotions from football fans. Whether you’re a die hard for your club or you back your country to the hilt, you can’t deny that for some the international break gives much needed respite.
Who in Europe will be relishing the chance to wind down, regroup and plot their next move the most?
Die Borussen are resurgent, there’s no doubt about it. In his first season at the Westfalenstadion Lucien Favre has got Dortmund fighting for the title for the first time in years.
Favre’s free flowing football and positive forward play have quickly made him a fan favourite. Dortmund remained undefeated in the Bundesliga until round 16 just two matches before the winter break, managing to see off arch rivals in a 3-2 victory in the process.
Now things are tight at the top. A difficult February with three consecutive draws, and a surprise loss to Augsburg on 1 March, coupled with a resurgent Bayern Munich have seen them knocked off the top spot by their Bavarian arch rivals on goal difference.
Dortmund earnt themselves a lifeline in the final match before the break after a Marco Reus injury time strike sealed three points away to Hertha Berlin.
Favre will welcome the break more than most in order to regroup, take stock, and pray that his star players Marco Reus and Jadon Sancho don’t pick up any knocks away on international duty.
To find the best free bet offers on the market head over to BetBlazers before a bet on who’s going to take the Bundesliga title this season. Dortmund will have to give everything they’ve got if they’re going to knock Bayern off the top spot.
Interim manager Santiago Solari looked to have steadied the ship by mid-February with Real hitting a decent run of form. Fast forward just a couple of weeks and it all came crashing down before the eyes of the former Champions League winning midfielder.
Starts for out of favour star names Marcelo, Isco and Gareth Bale were welcomed back with open arms under Zidane against Celta Vigo at the weekend. Likewise out of favour goalkeeper Keylor Navas was back between the sticks, producing some fine moments that showed why he was number one for their Champions League treble success.
It took Los Blancos until the second half to break the deadlock, with a Luka Modric goal flagged down by VAR. A once ostracised Isco then hit back to open the scoring proper. Bale promptly finished the tie off not long after.
Zidane’s initial starting line up shows that the Frenchman probably won’t have too much tweaking to do on the pitch during the international break. After all he is working with essentially the same set of players he was this time last season, before his impromptu exit following a third Champions League victory.
Rather Zidane and the Real board will want to utilise this pause in the domestic calendar to have important discussions about how they will move forward into next season, and more importantly, who they’re going to sign.
Ole Gunnar Solskjær has been at the wheel for just about three months now. The question on everyone’s lips is rather when not if he will get the job permanently come the summer.
Solskjær has undertaken a complete overhaul of the team’s tactics on the pitch and has brought back a spring in the step of the Old Trafford outfit.
When Jose Mourinho spoke in December about it taking a miracle for United to make top four there’s no way he could have foreseen that miracle would come in the form of United’s adored ‘99 Champions League winner.
But it’s not all been plain sailing at United. Following a fantastic surge towards top four and an even more spectacular seeing off of Paris Saint-Germain at the last gasp to earn a spot in the Champions League quarter finals, Ole seems to have veered slightly off course.
Since then it’s all come crashing back down to reality with two back to back defeats on the road. Those two defeats have seen them drop out of the top four spot in the Premier League and out of the FA Cup.
Solskjær will be ringing in the international break. It’ll give him and staff some welcome space after a baptism of fire to a stellar but hectic first three months in the job. Fixtures are coming thick and fast with two ties against Barcelona, as well as Chelsea and Manchester City in the league.
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