Luke Shaw has returned to the England fold after his recent performances with Manchester United.
The left-back suffered a broken leg back in 2015 and it’s been a long road back from injury.
He discusses the match against Spain to come and more in the video below.
Real Madrid star Toni Kroos believes Leroy Sane can be a match-winner for Germany and Manchester City, providing he listens to advice and improves his body language.
Despite being a key part of City’s title-winning squad last season, Sane was not taken to the World Cup this summer by Germany – a decision that many pundits put down to his poor attitude when on international duty.
But after Germany’s chastening experience in Russia, the 22-year-old is back in the squad for Thursday’s Nations League opener against France in Munich.
This recall, however, has come at a time when he appears to have fallen out of favour at City, as he has not started for Pep Guardiola yet this season and was not even on the bench for last weekend’s win over Newcastle.
“He can be a world-class player, but he needs people who tell him what to do from time to time and to work on himself,” said Kroos, who will hope to feature in his country’s UEFA Nations League showdown with France on Thursday.
“That’s what Pep is doing at the moment with not selecting him. He wants to provoke him a bit.
“It is clear that you have to find a way to bring him to his top performance. If he is at his top performance, he is for us – with his qualities, which are relatively seldom if you are looking at our squad – a player who enriches us.
“He gives us definitely more options for our game, but obviously only if he is able to show that on the field.”
As the domestic season is halted in favour of some international action, the UEFA Nations League gets its opportunity to introduce itself to fans across the globe.
There’s no doubt that it will serve up several points for discussion but here’s a look at some ahead of the fixtures.
LEROY SANE’S RETURN
Don’t call it a comeback. He’s been here for years. Well, maybe just the three years since his international debut but it was still a shock when Leroy Sane was left out of Joachim Low’s World Cup squad in the summer.
The 22-year-old winger enjoyed the finest season of his blossoming career as he was one of the star performers in Manchester City’s title-winning campaign last term. In light of that, the Premier League Young Player of the Year’s omission from the German squad that travelled to Russia was controversial to say the least.
For a young talent, there’s no telling what impact that may have had on his confidence. However, the fact that he’s been so poor in the new campaign despite enjoying a full pre-season that Pep Guardiola has only afforded him 30 minutes of playing time so far, is surely some indication.
Germany certainly missed his services at the World Cup as they struggled to generate genuine width in their efforts to break down weaker opposition and suffered a shock group-stage elimination.
Having received the nod for the 2014 champions ahead of their UEFA Nations League fixture with France on Thursday, Sane will have a point to prove.
A FRESH START FOR ITALY
For all the scandals that have plagued Italian football, their failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup after a 1-0 aggregate defeat to Sweden on November 13 last year will undoubtedly go down as one of their darkest days.
What followed, almost instantaneously, was a mass exodus with Giorgio Chiellini, Andrea Barzagli, Daniele De Rossi and captain Gianluigi Buffon all announcing their retirements from the international stage. Head coach Gian Piero Ventura was dismissed two days later.
New manager Roberto Mancini has won his first match in charge when Italy beat Saudi Arabia 2-1 in May but that was a mere two weeks following his appointment. Having had time to gather his bearings now, their clash with Poland on Friday will carry far more weight.
The new-look Azzurri have plenty of work to do and apart from Leonardo Bonucci and the returning Chiellini, have little in terms of experience to cope with the task ahead. Mancini’s squad now boasts a wealth of creative and attacking players, leading many to wonder about the kind of football he intends to produce.
The midfield in particular is lacking in steel with Chelsea’s pass master Jorginho marshalling that area of the pitch instead, supported by the likes of Marco Benassi and Giacomo Bonaventura. Not least among the many questionable selections is the inclusion of the erratic Mario Balotelli.
Mancini’s every move will come under scrutiny and a good performance against Poland will go a long way to easing a nation’s anxiety.
TALE OF TWO LEFT-BACKS
It’s been a long road back into the England fold for Luke Shaw. Having earned his international debut in 2014, he suffered a potential career-ending injury when he broke his leg the following year.
After a lengthy and frustrating rehabilitation process, he’s had to fight and claw his way into first-team contention at Manchester United.
This season, he’s been the club’s best player and voted their Player of the Month for August, even drawing praise from Jose Mourinho who’s been heavily critical of him in the past. A call-up to the England squad from Gareth Southgate is just reward.
When the Three Lions take on Spain on Saturday, the left-back story in the opposition camp is a different and perhaps cynical one. New La Roja manager Luis Enrique caused quite a stir last week when he left Jordi Alba out of his squad.
The Barcelona left-back established himself in the national team set-up in 2012 and has been a mainstay ever since, amassing 66 caps. However, the 29-year-old had a falling out with Enrique towards the end of the latter’s reign at the Blaugrana and that is being cited as the reason for his surprising exclusion.
“I don’t have any problems with anyone on a professional level. It’s a decision which Luis Enrique has taken but I don’t know why I haven’t been called up,” Alba said in response to the suggestion.
The full-back starred in Barcelona’s 8-2 thumping of Huesca over the weekend, scoring a goal and assisting another. There’s clearly nothing wrong with his form and it will be interesting to see if Enrique’s bold move backfires.