We know, we know. Why have an international break NOW? This turbulent Premier League season was just building up to a memorable finale!
We can’t do anything about this week’s host of international games – blame the football Gods for that – but we can give you something to help ease the pain. It comes in the form of an epic 40/1 treble that could leave you feeling flush and chipper in time for the upcoming Bank Holiday break.
Our trio of host nations heading to Euro 2016 warm up for this summer’s tournament with various friendlies this week. England travel to Germany on Saturday for another meeting with the Old Enemy, Wales host Northern Ireland on Thursday night and the Republic of Ireland welcome Switzerland on Friday.
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Germany v England
Yes they’re world champions but Germany could be without their ‘national team player of the year’ when welcoming England on Saturday. Mesut Ozil missed training with the Germans on Wednesday with a rumored dead leg. He’s been Arsenal’s best player this term and is just two assists away from breaking Thierry Henry’s record from the 2002/2003 season. His absence will be a big blow for the hosts.
Bayer Leverkusen winger Karim Bellarabi is also carrying a knock while Manchester United’s Bastian Schweinsteiger needs a scan on his knee after taking a blow in Tuesday’s training session.
A statement from the DFB said: “Schweinsteiger was injured at the end of the session on Tuesday afternoon on his right knee. For further investigation, the captain will now undergo an MRI examination with national team physician Dr. Hans-Wilhelm Muller-Wohlfahrt in Munich. Ozil and Bellarabi will stay for treatment at the team hotel. Ozil had suffered a blow to his left ankle in the Premier League match on Saturday at Everton. Bellarabi picked up a bruise to his right foot in the Bundesliga match on Sunday against VfB Stuttgart.”
While the Germans re-shuffle the pack ahead of England’s arrival, the Three Lions were unbeaten in their Euro 2016 qualifying campaign and have an in-form Harry Kane leading the line.
Wales v Northern Ireland
Wales meet Northern Ireland at Cardiff City Stadium for what should be a joint celebration of the nations’ qualification to Euro 2016. Expect a right old knees up from both sets of fans and a few changes from either manager as they tinker with their squads through both experimentation and injuries. Star man Gareth Bale, who became the top British scorer in La Liga history on Sunday (43) when netting against Sevilla, will miss out through injury. Wales have clashed with Northern Ireland seven times in their history, losing only once way back in 1954, and will have passionate home support behind them in the capital.
Northern Ireland meanwhile are also without a key man from their promising Euro 2016 qualifying campaign after Chris Brunt sustained a knee injury that will keep him out the finals. Gaffer Michael O’Neill will be hoping his team’s strong defensive record – they lost only once in the Euro qualifiers – comes up trumps again in Wales.
Ireland v Switzerland
Props to Ireland, who came through a tough Euro 2016 qualifying group that included Poland and Germany to book their place at the finals in France this summer. A memorable play-off victory against Bosnia Herzegovina sent the boys in green wild and they’ll no doubt still be buzzing from that achievement.
There’s plenty of firepower available upfront for the Irish. Skipper Robbie Keane remains an influential figure in the squad while Southampton’s Shane Long also has the quality to win games. The Swiss have only tasted victory in Ireland just once – a 2-1 Euro 2004 qualification victory – but the likes of Stoke City midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri will ensure his Swiss teammates aren’t just going through the motions. All of the Irish’s home games in Euro 2016 qualifying, not considering their trashing of Gibraltar, finished under 2.5 goals. Expect a tight affair.