International football returns to the scene and it promises to bring another week of substantial zing. While the UEFA European qualifiers will grab most of the attention, Asian countries will bulge into the FIFA World Cup Asian qualifiers, and a few South American nations will lock horns in international friendlies.

A two-week layoff from domestic football is scheduled in a style that the European qualifiers will have a firm result. With all this happening, it is certain to feel sceptic about the picks. But we bet that if you keep an eye on the following games, your week will be smooth as a whistle.

Brazil vs Argentina:

It may just be a friendly game on paper, but Brazil taking on Argentina has never really disappointed. Expect goals; be it from any team. Both of them, in fact, played their last 0-0 draw during the Superclasico de las Americas showdown in 2011. Since then, either Brazil or Argentina have scored at least two goals in seven out of 10 games.

Thus, the odds of this match being a stalemate are little, to say the least.

Speaking of their head to head count, Brazil edge Argentina with 46 victories out of 110 games. Argentina, on the other hand, have 39 victories in their kitty, while the stakes have been shared on 25 occasions. And if you’re wondering about their recent meeting, well it came during the semi-finals of the Copa America in July this year where goals from Gabriel Jesus and Roberto Firmino helped Brazil eliminate Argentina from the competition.

Watch out for:

Lionel Messi: The five-time FIFA Ballon d’Or winner is back in contention after serving his three-month ban. The 32-year-old, who is enjoying a great run of form of late, is tipped to make a strong impact as he is coming on the back of a hat-trick scored during Barcelona’s thumping 4-1 win over Celta Vigo.

Messi, in fact, has either scored or assisted in eight of his last nine appearances for the club, and this without a shadow of doubt makes him a firm favourite to start.

His past experiences against Brazil though haven’t been really fruitful. Since bursting on to the international scene, Messi’s first encounter against the Selecao came in 2006 where Brazil emerged victorious through a comfortable margin.

Messi’s losing streak against Brazil continued until 2010 when Argentina finally broke the voodoo with a 1-0 victory in a friendly in Doha. This was, in fact, his first goal against the five-time World Cup winners. A stunning hat-trick in New Jersey in front of a crowd of 82,000 then led Argentina to a 4-3 win over the Selecao, but the forward has been on a downward spiral since.

A 2-0 defeat in 2014 was followed by a 3-0 World Cup qualifying defeat in 2016 before running out of luck in their Copa America semi-final this year once again.

This pretty much sums Messi’s performance against Brazil.

England vs Montenegro:

Image: AFP / Olly Greenwood

England have been pretty firm on their road towards next year’s European Championships, winning five of their last six games in Group A. What they need now is only a point to seal a berth alongside Belgium, Italy, Poland, Russia, Spain, and Ukraine.

The Three Lions, in fact, have been utterly ruthless during qualifying, scoring at least four goals in five of their last six outings. So just don’t expect this fixture to be a tedious watch. Look forward to goals galore.

England’s record during the qualifiers for the Euros is outstanding, having won a whopping 17 of their 19 games. Also unbeaten in 12 home qualifying games, they have scored at least twice in 14 of their last 16 matches.

Montenegro, on their part, are yet to register a win against England, but have managed to play out three draws in their five overall meetings.

Look out for:

Harry Kane: The England captain has failed to score in his last two club appearances, but his figures for England are stunning. The 26-year-old assisted three goals and got himself a goal in England’s 6-0 thrashing of Bulgaria last time out.

His return of six goals and four assists in last four games for England is enough to underline what kind of danger he carries. 

Wondering what to do next? Head to to select your picks.

Feature image courtesy: AFP / Douglas Magno