Internationals: Five things to look out for

Tuesday 12 October 2021 12:44

As many as eight Manchester United players could be in action tonight, as the European international break draws to a close.

England could move within one win of joining Germany in qualifying for the 2022 World Cup, while Portugal and Sweden have the opportunity to take charge of their respective groups.

Scotland are unlikely to catch Denmark in Group F but could clinch a play-off spot as they bid to end 24 years of hurt in the competition.

Here are five things to look out for…


Jadon Sancho showed glimpses of his mercurial talent in United’s last two games before the international break and he also impressed during England’s 5-0 qualifying win over Andorra at the weekend, with assists for Ben Chilwell and Tammy Abraham. Veteran defender Ildefons Lima even pulled a hamstring trying to keep up with the United winger in the second half! Hungary, who the Three Lions beat 4-0 in Budapest last month, are next up in this evening's game at Wembley and Jadon will be hoping for another chance to shine ahead of his return to the club stage with the Reds. The same goes for Jesse Lingard, who scored twice in England's last home match, also against Andorra, on 5 September.


Luke Shaw has established himself on the left-hand side of the Three Lions’ defence since returning to the fold in March, although he was given a night off on Saturday with Chilwell involved instead. Luke was hampered by injury and illness prior to the international break, although he did play in the 1-1 draw against Everton and was presumably fit enough to be involved in Andorra after joining up with the rest of Southgate’s squad. The England boss tends to rotate between games and, with Shaw impressing in the Three Lions’ last meeting with Hungary – he assisted a goal for club colleague Harry Maguire – he could once again find himself being called upon.


Portugal are tussling it out with Serbia for control of Group A and, with the latter facing winless Azerbaijan tonight, there is simply no margin for error when Cristiano Ronaldo, Bruno Fernandes and Diogo Dalot's national team take on Luxembourg in Faro. The visitors have traditionally been minnows of European football but have shown real signs of improvement in recent years, drawing with France in 2017 and beating the Republic of Ireland in Dublin earlier this year. Ronaldo increased his world-record tally of international goals on Saturday by scoring against Qatar, and Luxembourg are among his favourite opponents: only against Lithuania and Sweden has he netted more. If he can help his side notch another victory, he should remain on track for a record-equalling fifth World Cup finals appearance.

Ronaldo salutes the crowd after scoring against Qatar.


Scott McTominay’s dramatic injury-time winner at Hampden Park on Saturday ensured Scotland moved four points clear in second, with just three games to play in Group F. Steve Clarke’s men now travel to the Faroe Islands in a match they will be hot favourites for. They could book a place in the 12-team play-offs with a win, but only if Israel lose at home to Moldova and leaders Denmark continue their perfect record by beating Austria.

McTominay celebrates his dramatic winner against Israel.


With Spain’s attention concentrated on the Nations League, Sweden closed the gap at the top of the table to a point with an accomplished 3-0 victory over Kosovo at the weekend. The Scandinavians, with their captain Victor Lindelof back in the squad after he attended the birth of his second child, could now move ahead of the former world champions if they beat Greece at the Friends Arena in Stockholm tonight. Whatever the result, the drama is likely to continue into November, as Spain host Sweden on the final matchday.


England v Hungary (ITV)
Faroe Islands v Scotland (Sky Sports Main Event)
Portugal v Luxembourg (Sky Sports Red Button)
Sweden v Greece (Sky Sports Red Button)

Brackets denote television coverage in the UK. All games kick off at 19:45 BST.