B/R Football Ranks: 10 Most Exciting International Teams to Watch Right Now

Sam Tighe@@stighefootballWorld Football Tactics Lead WriterOctober 7, 2019

GENK, BELGIUM - NOVEMBER 20:  Tyler Adams of the United States battles for possession with Stefano Sensi of Italy and Nicolo Barella of Italy during the International Friendly match between Italy and the United States at Cristal Arena on November 20, 2018 in Genk, Belgium.  (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

Domestic football takes its second pause for the 2019-20 season as the international window steps forward.

And it might well be that you're looking for some inspiration; without a club team to reliably check in on, and with your nation perhaps not playing games of the utmost importance, you need something to tune in to.

We've got you covered.

As B/R Football Ranks host Jack Collins proclaimed during the last international window, there's a lot of fun to be had during this period—if you know where to look, and if you watch the right teams and games.

Here, we've ranked the top 10 most exciting teams to watch in international football, hopefully handing you a few ideas on when and where to lay your gaze over the next week-and-a-bit.

Download the B/R Football Ranks podcast. New episodes every Wednesday. 

     


      

10. Algeria

Key reason: Exciting, slick football

CAIRO, EGYPT - JULY 07:  Riyad Mahrez of Algeria celebrates his goal with Youcef Atal, Baghdad Bounedjah and Ismael Bennacer during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations Round of 16 match between Algeria and Guinea at 30th June Stadium on July 07, 2019 in Cairo,
Visionhaus/Getty Images

The reigning Africa Cup of Nations champions are always likely to be a decent watch, and Algeria live up to the hype.

Riyad Mahrez is still the face of the team, and the form he's begun this Premier League season in bodes well for the Fennecs' hopes of victory this month. His connection with Islam Slimani, who has rediscovered his scoring boots at Monaco, is a serious danger to any defence.

Midfielder Ismael Bennacer won the Africa Cup of Nations Best Player award this summer, and that helped secure a high-profile move to AC Milan. Things haven't quite gone to plan for him at San Siro so far, but he could well revert back to his controlling, metronomic best in Algeria colours.

And perhaps the most eye-catching attraction on show—yes, even more so than Mahrez—is rumbling right-sider Youcef Atal, who should be on most top clubs' shopping lists in 2020. Watching him carry the ball forward is exciting for viewers but petrifying for opponents.

Fixture to watch: Algeria vs. Colombia (October 15, 8 p.m UK / 3 p.m. ET)

         


      

9. Kosovo

Key reason: Potential to make history

PODGORICA, MONTENEGRO - JUNE 07: Milot Rashica of Kosovo celebrates goal during the 2020 UEFA European Championships group A qualifying match between Montenegro and Kosovo at Podgorica City Stadium on June 7, 2019 in Podgorica, Montenegro (Photo by MB Med
MB Media/Getty Images

An independent nation since 2008. Only recognised by FIFA since 2016. Nine of their first 10 games lost as the difficult realities of international football hit home hard and fast.

And yet, Kosovo have emerged from the other side of that baptism of fire, adapting and creating a template for exciting football with a good group of players on the fly.

It took an opponent of England's calibre to end their unbeaten run of 15 games last month, with the defeat finally coming in a 5-3 thriller. 

In Milot Rashica and Bersant Celina, Kosovo have a pair of creative midfield engines that excite and ignite, while Arber Zeneli can help supply striker Vedat Muriqi.

Euro 2020 qualification is possible if they can find a way to get results in their next three games, starting with Montenegro at home next week. What an incredible achievement that would be if they manage it.

Fixture to watch: Kosovo vs. Montenegro (October 14, 7:45 p.m UK / 2:45 p.m. ET)

        


       

8. Venezuela

Key reason: Literally anything can happen in their games

Venezuela's Darwin Machis celebrates after scoring against Bolivia during their Copa America football tournament group match at the Mineirao Stadium in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, on June 22, 2019. (Photo by Douglas Magno / AFP)        (Photo credit should re
DOUGLAS MAGNO/Getty Images

Venezeula are football's answer to Forrest Gump's famous "box of chocolates" quip; it really is impossible to know exactly what you're going to get out of them results- and performance-wise, but you will enjoy what you see.

There's a nice mix of in-form, established stars (like Salomon Rondon and Darwin Machis) and emerging, talented youngsters (like Yangel Herrera and Yeferson Soteldo) in this squad.

Moving forward and into 2020, expect to see plenty of the exhilarating prospects from their under-20 side, such as Jan Carlos Hurtado, Christian Makoun and Samuel Sosa—all names you should store in your minds—break into the team and begin to impress.

If Venezuela find their gear, they're a team that purrs; if they don't and become besieged, enigmatic goalkeeper Wuilker Farinez is a joy to watch as he pulls off incredible saves left and right.

It's win-win, no matter what happens, for the viewer.

Fixture to watch: Venezuela vs. Bolivia (October 10, 11 p.m UK / 6 p.m. ET)

      


      

7. Senegal

Key reason: Stacked squad

Senegal's forward Sadio Mane controls the ball during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) Final football match between Senegal and Algeria at the Cairo International Stadium in Cairo on July 19, 2019. (Photo by Giuseppe CACACE / AFP)        (Photo credit
GIUSEPPE CACACE/Getty Images

Senegal's collection of players is quite something.

It's headed up by familiar star names in Sadio Mane and Kalidou Koulibaly, but scratch a little further beneath the surface and you'll find a mass of talent that all start—or are good enough to start—for top European sides.

Moussa Wague of Barcelona and Salif Sane of Schalke form part of a good defence, which is backed up by an excellent goalkeeper in Edouard Mendy. Midfielder Idrissa Gueye has made Paris Saint-Germain impervious to attacks so far this season, and he can do the same for Senegal.

In Ismaila Sarr (Watford), Krepin Diatta (Club Brugge), Keita Balde (Monaco) and M'Baye Niang (Rennes), they have so much variation in attack to switch up approaches.

Charismatic coach Aliou Cisse has the Lions of Teranga playing good football and winning games. That will be put to a stern test this month, though!

Fixture to watch: Brazil vs. Senegal (October 10, 1 p.m UK / 8 a.m. ET)

     


       

6. Brazil

Key reason: Star power

KAZAN, RUSSIA - JULY 06: Phlippe Coutinho of Brazil speaks with Neymar of Brazil during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Quarter Final match between Brazil and Belgium at Kazan Arena on July 6, 2018 in Kazan, Russia. (Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images)
TF-Images/Getty Images

Sometimes, it really is as simple as following the star power.

While their old continental rivals Argentina continue to try to figure out how to arrange themselves around Lionel Messi, Brazil have found a zen synchronicity whether their own star, Neymar, is there or not.

The PSG forward is back in the mix after missing the Copa America win due to injury, so how he integrates into the XI is intriguing. Both he and Philippe Coutinho are running hot, with the latter rediscovering his mojo since moving to Bayern Munich; what sort of devastation will they cause together this month?

Alisson Becker's injury gives the Selecao an element of uncertainty between the sticks—Ederson Moraes only has seven caps for his country—and therefore a glimmer of hope for their two upcoming opponents.

Fixture to watch: Brazil vs. Senegal (October 10, 1 p.m UK / 8 a.m. ET)

        


      

5. England

Key reason: The new SAS combo

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 10: Jadon Sancho of England celebrates with team mates Raheem Sterling after scoring his sides fifth goal during the UEFA Euro 2020 qualifier match between England and Kosovo at St. Mary's Stadium on September 10, 2019 in
Clive Mason/Getty Images

England have many charms as a football team in 2019, but in imploring you to watch them, we'll simply dial in on one: You simply can't be passing up the chance to watch Raheem Sterling and Jadon Sancho combine on a football pitch.

They're two incredible, exciting forwards who feed off each other and rip defences apart. Pivoting off Harry Kane, who distracts, occupies and scores a few himself, the three represent one of the most formidable attacks in the sport.

That naturally leads to quite a lot of goals—England have scored at least four goals in four of their six games this year—and that helps take some of the focus off what is a pretty leaky defensive unit.

Fixture to watch: Czech Republic vs. England (October 11, 7:45 p.m. UK / 2:45 p.m. ET)

       


       

4. Mexico

Key reason: Goals from all over

SAN ANTONIO, TX - SEPTEMBER 10: Raul Jimenez #9 of Mexico and Faustino Marcos Rojo #16 of Argentina fight the ball during the international friendly match between Argentina and Mexico at Alamodome on September 10, 2019 in San Antonio, Texas. (Photo by Oma
Omar Vega/Getty Images

One of the most satisfying experiences you can get during an international window is watching Mexico's goal reels. 

They come from absolutely all over the place, all in different guises and styles. Strikers score poachers' efforts, midfielders chip in from distance or having crashed into the box, centre-backs contribute from set pieces and even the full-backs are so gung ho at times they get in on the act.

Occasionally this backfires—you only have to look at the 4-0 loss to Argentina in September to realise that—but they play an exciting brand of attacking football that resonates with their passionate fans.

They're up against Bermuda (ranked 167th in the world). It will be a case of guess how many.

Fixture to watch: Bermuda vs. Mexico (October 12, 2 a.m. UK / October 11, 9 p.m. ET)

       


      

3. Italy

Key reason: They're back

BOLOGNA, ITALY - JUNE 16:  Federico Chiesa of Italy celebrates his second goal with his team-mates during the 2019 UEFA U-21 Group A match between Italy and Spain at (insert stadium name) on June 16, 2019 in Bologna, Italy.  (Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty
Marco Luzzani/Getty Images

For the first time since 2014, Italy are looking like the team you always imagine them to be: imperious, packed with top-level talent and capable of winning in automatic mode.

In Marco Verratti, Stefano Sensi, Nicolo Barella and Jorginho, they have the world's most diminutive and technically talented midfield set, and they're running games with ease from the centre.

The two Federicos, Chiesa and Bernardeschi, are absolute menaces from the flank, and the former, in particular, is an incredible player. Lorenzo Insigne adds spice to the unit, too.

The Azzurri are on a seven-game win streak and have won every match of 2019 so far. Keep that record going this month and Euro 2020 qualification will be secured. Also, peep the kits they'll be wearing on Friday!

Fixture to watch: Italy vs. Greece (October 12, 7:45 p.m. UK / 2:45 p.m. ET)

       


     

2. Germany

Key reason: They're a real head-scratcher

Germany's midfielder Serge Gnabry celebrates scoring their second goal during the the Euro 2020 football qualification match between Northern Ireland and Germany at Windsor Park in Belfast on September 9, 2019. (Photo by PAUL FAITH / AFP)        (Photo cr
PAUL FAITH/Getty Images

For the neutral, at least, Germany are an exciting and intriguing watch. 

The 2018 World Cup disaster was almost incomprehensible given the talent levels in their squad, and while things have improved in the Euro 2020 qualifying gauntlet, they're still a fallible, frail side that gets caught in high-scoring, helter-skelter affairs.

Watch Germany and you see some of the best young players in the world (Serge Gnabry, Niklas Sule, Kai Havertz, Timo Werner) managed by someone (Joachim Low) who doesn't really seem to have a good handle on how to truly harness them.

The results can be explosive, as their two tussles with the Netherlands this year attest to.

Die Mannschaft are in must-win mode to secure qualification for Euro 2020 and have to beat Estonia on October 13, but it might just be the friendly against Argentina four days before that commands your attention.

Fixture to watch: Germany vs. Argentina (October 9, 7:45 p.m UK / 2:45 a.m. ET)


     

1. Netherlands

Key reason: Goals galore

AMSTERDAM, NETERLANDS - MARCH 24: Memphis Depay of Netherlands celebrates after scoring his team's second goal during the 2020 UEFA European Championships group C qualifying match between Netherlands and Germany at Johan Cruijff ArenA on March 24, 2019 in
TF-Images/Getty Images

With the exception of the Nations League final against Portugal, every game the Netherlands have played in 2019 has seen at least four goals. It makes Netherlands games appointment viewing.

Most of those have been scored by the Dutch themselves, with attacking sparks like Memphis Depay and Georginio Wijnaldum finding new levels of brilliance when representing their nation. Twenty-year-old Donyell Malen has burst on to the scene, too, giving them further ammunition up top.

The midfield, orchestrated by Frenkie de Jong, is predictably slick, while the Virgil van Dijk-Matthijs De Ligt central defensive pairing might just be the best in the international game.

Their tussle with Northern Ireland this week is a must-win if they hope to qualify for Euro 2020. The pressure is on.

Fixture to watch: Netherlands vs. Northern Ireland (October 10, 7:45 p.m. UK / 2:45 p.m. ET)

      

Follow @stighefootball

Instagram.com/brsamtighe

All statistics via Soccerway.com 

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