For the young Real Madrid hopefuls, this International break has been one of the most important that I have seen! It is worth noting, that for the first time in well over a decade, no Castilla player has been called up for national team duty twice in a row. All of the players included in this article are Castilla graduates, and boy do I miss them. Tears aside, lets begin!
Martin Ødegaard - Norway Under-21’s
Norway are aiming for the U21 European Championships. Of course, they are almost choosing to do it the hard way, per usual. Points taken away and silly points dropped have made their fight a tough one, and with table-toppers Ireland, and the small matter of Germany to play this time round - their campaign could’ve been over before they knew it.
Ireland U21’s 0-0 Norway U21’s
This game was refreshing for me personally, as I was treated to English speaking commentators, who showed no sign of bias. The game was pretty close, with Norway just edging out the play. It was good to see that a lot of the play came through Martin, but Norway are a good team and do not rely on the Madrid player alone. It never looked like it was going to be a high scoring affair, and that was proven when the final whistle blew. 0-0, and points shared.
Norway U21’s 3-1 Germany U21’s
Even though Ireland were top of the table, Germany still looked to provide a bigger challenge. More points dropped here would spell out trouble for the Scandinavians. It was going to take something special to get a result, and Martin Ødegaard provided just that. He was everywhere for Norway, scoring and assisting to aid in a 3-1 win.
In this case, a video can tell a thousand words. Check it out for yourselves below! One thing I have to add, is that I am really pleased for Norway. I couldn't tell you the amount of times I’ve seen them perform really well against a giant footballing nation only to have the result stolen! They now find themselves optimistic to push on for qualification, and Martin’s first team hopes for both club and country keep getting closer.
Martin Ødegaard x Germany U21. Prominent display from the youngster against a tough opposition. Should be playing for Norway's first team. pic.twitter.com/dGSXfWU7P5— A. (@KaizerT8_) October 11, 2017
Fede Valverde - Uruguay
Venezuela 0-0 Uruguay
Fede cemented his place in the Uruguayan national team this time round, starting both games. I didn’t catch either of these games, as they are played very late at night in England. Against Venezuela he played 80 minutes, and helped to keep a clean sheet, as Uruguay earned a valuable point against the ever-improving Venezuelans.
Uruguay 4-2 Bolivia
The game that secured World Cup qualification for the men in blue. Valverde started, as goals from Cavani and Suárez ensured that only Brazil finished ahead of Uruguay during the qualifying campaign. Uruguay have also never lost a game when Fede Valverde has been playing. Will we see Fede Valverde in Russia?
Philipp Lienhart - Austria
The two big names already mentioned will steal the headlines this time around, but it was actually Philipp Lienhart who had the most significant time away with his national team (The Austria under-21’s captain, is now no longer the under-21’s captain)....
Moldova 0-1 Austria
..... This is because he is now a full Austria international. He made his debut in the 1-0 win away to Moldova, playing 90 minutes and keeping a clean sheet. This is an absolutely huge moment for Philipp. He has impressed with Bundesliga side Freiburg so far this year, and if he can maintain a starting spot with Austria, then all of a sudden he has a real case for a chance with the first team. Make sure to keep a strong eye on Lienhart’s progress this season.
Aleix Febas - Spain U21’s
It’s been a really important time for Febas as well. Unfortunately he did not make his debut, but being recalled to the Spanish youth international system is massive. It’s great to see him get the recognition that he deserves. He has had a good start to the season with Zaragoza, and if he keeps up his form then an appearance for his country is just around the corner.
It’s been a really successful time for these youngsters, and they are all starting to push forward with the aim of fulfiling their huge potential. As Castilla get worse, their graduates seem to only get better. Hopefully there will be a few more call-ups given out next time. One thing’s for sure, Zinedine Zidane has some tough decisions to make around the corner about these players.