Not wearing hockey pads. - Scott Heavey
ALL THE CAPS!
I'm fairly certain there's never been an international break that has come at a good time and with Chelsea mired under a deluge of fixtures, this one's no exception. Then again, with just two matches (and associated travel) in about 10 days, this is almost a luxurious stretch for many Blues. Juan Mata may even find a second or two to sit down.
Here's a random stat for you: since The Interim One's come into power, Juan Mata has played just 47 minutes less than Petr Cech. If this were Twitter, I'd say something like "crucial" or "indispensable" at this point. But since this isn't Twitter, I'll say "please all based football gods, don't let some mean Frenchie hurt the Lord of the Hobbits!" instead.
So, as the title states, if Petr Cech plays both of the Czech Republic's matches during this break, he will reach 100 caps. Not too shabby for a 30-year-old. With the Czechs distinctly lacking a Courtois, Cech should have no trouble reaching and breaking Karel Poborsky's record 118.
First in action from all the Chelsea boys will be David Luiz however (and perhaps Oscar), as Italy hosts Brazil ... in Switzerland, for whatever random reason:
Italy vs. Brazil
7:30 P.M. GMT, 3:30 P.M. EDT
Stade de Geneve, Geneva, Switzerland
ITV 4 (UK), BeIN Sport (USA)
Actually, I lied. First in action will be one or both of Josh McEachran and Nathaniel Chalobah, both of whom have been called up by Stuart Pearce to the England U21 team for another friendly:
England U21 vs. Romania U21
6:30 P.M. GMT, 2:30 P.M. EDT
Adams Park, High Wycombe, UK
ESPN (UK), Fox Soccer (USA)
Most of the rest of the senior internationals will play World Cup 2016 qualifiers on Friday and then again on Tuesday, while the African contingent will play their singular matches on Saturday. Here's a quick rundown of who and against whom, along with their current number of international caps:
BRAZIL - David Luiz (19), Oscar (13)
vs. Italy (friendly); vs. Russia (friendly)
CZECH REPUBLIC - Petr Cech (98)
vs. Denmark (H); vs. Armenia (A)
* Cahill has been ruled out from the San Marino match tomorrow but he may yet be selected for the much tougher Montenegro matchup.
ISRAEL - Yossi Benayoun (90)
vs. Portugal (friendly), vs. Northern Ireland (A)
SENEGAL - Demba Ba (16)
vs. Angola (H)
SERBIA - Branislav Ivanovic (58)
vs. Croatia (A); vs. Scotland (H)
SPAIN - Cesar Azpilicueta (1), Juan Mata (21)
vs. Finland (H); vs. France (A)
In addition to the aforementioned young talents McEachran and Chalobah, a shedload more have been called up to their respective national teams at the youth level, including Jeffrey Bruma and Patrick van Aanholt (Netherlands U21), Islam Feruz (Scotland U21), Thorgan Hazard (Belgium U21), Tomas Kalas (Czech Republic U21), Milan Lalkovic (Slovakia U21), Nathan Ake (Netherlands U19), Lewis Baker (England U19), Alex Davey (Scotland U19), Andreas Christensen (Denmark U19). Both Baker and Christensen will be making their debut at this level should they also get the call on match-day.