The October international break has come to a conclusion for many nations, while some other teams are preparing for their final clash of this month. International football is always fascinating to watch, and we have witnessed some mouth-watering clashes over the last two weeks.
Teams from all across the globe competed in the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers. Germany became the first team to confirm their berth, while Denmark also have booked their slot. Besides them, we have plenty of teams who are all but one small step away for boarding the flight to Qatar next year.
Like always, we have had some brilliant individual performances in the international break. Here are the top players from the recently-concluded World Cup qualifiers:
It is indeed strange that Andriy Yarmolenko has not been able to prove his mettle in the Premier League, as the West Ham United player comes good for Ukraine almost every time he wears the yellow shirt. After a fantastic UEFA Euro 2020 campaign, Ukraine are looking to qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, and leading them in their pursuit is Yarmolenko. The 31-year-old attacker scored two goals in the two matches he played in the recently-concluded international break, against Finland and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Cristian Romero’s story is pretty similar to that of Andriy Yarmolenko. After joining Tottenham Hotspur in this season, he has not settled in the Premier League as seamlessly as he would have wanted to. However, the Argentine centre-back is doing his best to help his nation qualify for the upcoming World Cup, after playing a major role in La Albiceleste’s Copa America triumph. Argentina kept two clean sheets in their last two matches against Paraguay and Uruguay, and Romero had a big role to play on both occasions.
Joakim Maehle made a name for himself with his spectacular performances for Denmark at the UEFA Euro 2020, and since then, he has not had to look back. The 24-year-old full-back, who plies his trade for Italian outfit Atalanta, scored twice in this international break. His last goal against Austria not only handed Denmark the three important points, but also confirmed their participation in the upcoming World Cup.
Like Maehle, Alexander Isak is another youngster who used the Euro 2020 platform to prove that he is ready to shine at the big stage. The Real Sociedad striker scored in both matches that Sweden played over these internationals, against Kosovo and Greece. His performances helped Sweden to hold on to their first place in UEFA Group B of the World Cup qualifiers.
Placed in a tough group alongside some big teams like Croatia and Russia, Slovenia were never favourites to qualify for the 2022 World Cup. While they have already been eliminated, their star striker Josip Ilicic deserves credit for his perseverance and consistency. The second Atalanta player to feature on our list scored thrice in this international break – twice against Malta and once against Russia.
Timo Werner is the third Premier League player on our list, and like the previous two, his story follows a similar pattern. Despite not having the best of times at Chelsea, the 2021/22 UEFA Champions League winner looks sharp and lethal whenever he represents Germany. In the recently-concluded international break, he scored two goals, both of which came against North Macedonia.
Our last two mentions on this list are pattern-breakers, as they have found success in both England’s first division, and also for their respective countries. The first player from the duo, Riyad Mahrez starred in Algeria’s two consecutive victories in the CAF Group A. The Manchester City winger scored twice in the first game against Niger, while he also scored once in the return match.
Cristiano Ronaldo has hit the ground running in his second stint for Manchester United. In only six appearances, the Portuguese icon has scored five goals, and the 36-year-old has shown the same clinical form for his country as well, breaking records as is norm. In Portugal’s UEFA Group A match against Luxembourg, Ronaldo scored a hat-trick. With that scintillating performance, the five-time Ballon d’Or winner became the first player in history to score ten international hat-tricks.
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