World Football: Five International Friendlies to Watch in the Next Week
The international break is back. For the next week or so, fans will be bombarded with great games featuring the world's top players.
While World Cup Qualification will be the major headlines, there are many international friendlies to watch. Many of the top teams have byes in their competitive fixtures and will continue their 2014 preparations with friendly encounters.
Here's a list of five international friendlies to watch:
Brazil vs. Iraq
Date: October 11
Venue: Swedbank Stadion, Malmo, Sweden
Brazil are the hosts of the 2014 World Cup so they don't have any qualification process. For the next two years, Mano Menezes will only have friendly matches and the Confederations Cup to prepare his team.
On Thursday, they face Iraq in Malmo. The two sides have never faced one another in any competition.
Iraq are currently in the fourth round of World Cup Qualification, but have just two points from their first three matches so far in Group B.
They face South Korea next week, but will first need to worry about playing Brazil.
The Selecao looked very strong in the Olympics over the summer, but won't be happy about their loss to Mexico in the final. Mano Menezes has a plethora of superb players at his disposal, so it'll be interesting to see who plays against Iraq.
France vs. Japan
Date: October 12
Venue: Stade de France, Saint-Denis, France
Both France and Japan have started their World Cup Qualifications well.
Les Bleus, as we know, are in the same group as Spain and will have a very hard time finishing higher than the current World and European Champions. But the French have started their group well, with wins against Finland and Belarus.
Japan are in an even better position than France, with 10 points from their opening four games. So far, they have only conceded one goal while scoring 11.
Japan were one of the most interesting teams in the 2010 World Cup, as they advanced over Denmark and Cameroon in Group E before getting knocked out by Paraguay on penalties in the Round of 16.
France are trying to rebuild following their horrible display in South Africa, but were fairly disappointing in the Euro Championship over the summer.
The French will be strong favorites to win this match as it's at home, but beating Japan could prove to be a very difficult task.
Poland vs. South Africa
Date: October 12
Venue: Stadion Narodowy, Warsaw, Poland
These two sides faced each other in Johannesburg in 2009, with South Africa 1-0 victors. Now, they play again, this time in Poland.
Poland were co-hosts of this year's Euro 2012 but weren't able to advance past the Group Stage. South Africa had a similar experience, staging the 2010 World Cup and narrowly missing out on the knockout rounds.
Both nations won their most recent match in confident styles and will want to continue producing good results.
Colombia vs. Cameroon
Date: October 16
Venue: Barranquilla Metropolitan Stadium, Barranquilla, Colombia
Colombia are in top form. The World Cup Qualification process for South America is already on its ninth gameweek and Colombia are in second place, just one point off the leader Argentina.
José Pekerman's side is stacked with big name players, with the likes of Radamel Falcao, Cristian Zapata, Fredy Guarin and James Rodriguez. Colombia played well in the most recent Copa America but were unable to move past the quarterfinals.
They will now want to qualify for the World Cup and return to the successes they reached in the late 1990's and early 2000's.
This will be Cameroon's first match since star player Samuel Eto'o agreed to rejoin the team. The striker has always had a fragile relationship with the Cameroon national team, but Eto'o recently confirmed that he would return.
We'll see whether Eto'o plays in this match.
Japan vs. Brazil
Date: October 16
Venue: Stadion Miejski, Wrocklaw, Poland
As I said earlier in the slideshow, Brazil have automatic qualification, while Japan have begun the process to reach the World Cup in strong fashion.
I feel that both teams will field strong line-ups, but you would have to label the Brazilians as favorites in this game. They have won their last four games, including an 8-0 victory over China.
Mano Menezes certainly won't be happy that his young players couldn't triumph in the Olympics, but will be confident about winning the World Cup on home turf.