The first international break of the season has come and we have seen some very impressive performances, making the time spent apart by the teams on display thus far seem insignificant.
Napoli had 13 players called up for their national sides, but with Lorenzo Insigne and Arkadiusz Milik pulling out of their international call-ups due to fitness issues, only 11 of them made it to their respective international camps.
Here’s an overview of their performances.
Alex Meret made the squad selected by Italy boss Roberto Mancini for the Azzurri’s Euro 2020 qualifiers against Armenia and Finland following impressive showings in goal for Napoli, but was on the bench for both matches. Italy came away with wins against both teams, beating Armenia on Thursday 5 September by three goals to one and Finland on Sunday 8 September by two goals to one. He currently plays second fiddle to AC Milan’s Gianluigi Donnarumma but Mancini’s belief in him could reap some rewards in the future.
Dries Mertens is a regular name in the Belgian Red Devils team sheet and repaid his manager, Roberto Martinez’ faith in him with great performances in consecutive 4-0 victories against San Marino on Friday 6 September and Scotland on Monday 9 September in the Euro 2020 qualifiers. He scored in the victory against San Marino and earned a 7.8 SofaScore rating despite playing only 35 minutes, and provided the pre-assist for the first goal against Scotland scored by Inter Milan’s Romelu Lukaku, earning himself a 7.2 SofaScore rating. Mertens already has a goal in the Serie A this season.
Piotr Zielinski was in great form for Poland who travelled to Slovenia on Friday 6 September and welcomed Austria at home on Monday 9 September for their Euro 2020 qualifiers fixtures. He played full minutes in the 2-0 loss to Slovenia and the 0-0 draw with Austria, but was a bright spark going forward for the Polish national side which earned him 7.1 SofaScore ratings in both matches.
Fabian Ruiz was called up by La Roja manager Robert Moreno for their Euro 2020 qualifiers away at Romania on Thursday 5 September and at home against the Faroe Islands on Sunday 8 September. He put in a good shift against Romania in their 2-1 victory and had the highest ratings in the game (8.4). He was on the bench for Spain’s 4-0 defeat of the Faroe Islands national team however, as the manager deemed it best to play his fringe players in that game. Napoli will be happy with his international form and will hope it translates to even better results in the Serie A this season.
Mario Rui made the squad selected by Portugal manager Fernando Santos for their Euro 2020 qualifiers away at Serbia on Saturday 7 September and Lithuania on Tuesday 10 September. He was on the bench for both fixtures as Portugal played a hard-fought 4-2 win against Serbia and cruised easily past Lithuania.
Meanwhile, Nikola Maksimovic played the full match for Serbia in their 2-4 home loss to Mario Rui’s Portugal, where he picked up a yellow card and earned a 6.1 SofaScore rating. Against Luxembourg on Tuesday 10 September, his performance was not up to par as he earned a 6.8 rating, which didn’t affect the scoreline in any way as Serbia won the match 3-1.
Kostas Manolas is a regular for the Greek national team and put in very strong performances for the team in their Euro 2020 qualifiers away to Finland on Thursday 5 September, earning a 7.1 SofaScore rating despite the 1-0 loss, and in their 1-1 draw at home to Lichtenstein on Sunday 8 September, earning a 7.5 SofaScore rating. He has been solid for Napoli in the Serie A this season since joining from Roma, and Napoli will be looking forward to many more of these kinds of performances from the Greek international.
The teenage midfield prodigy Elif Elmas got called up by North Macedonia for their Euro 2020 qualifiers against Israel on Thursday 5 September and Latvia on Monday 9 September. He played out a 1-1 draw against the Israelis with his team and was kept quiet by the Israeli midfield and defence, earning him a 6.9 SofaScore rating. However, in the match versus Latvia, he terrorised their midfield and provided an assist as the North Macedonia side left Latvia with a 2-0 victory, earning himself a 7.6 SofaScore rating. He has been touted as a prodigious talent in Italy and under Carlo Ancelotti, he is sure to blossom into a proper midfielder. Napoli has a lot to look forward to this season from the youngster.
Hirving Lozano was called up to the Mexico side for friendly matches away at USA (who they defeated in the final of the 2019 Gold Cup) on Friday 6 September and helped his team come away with a 3-0 victory. They were also away to Argentina where they suffered a heavy 4-0 defeat, ending their 11-game winning streak on Tuesday 10 September. Lozano already has one goal in one appearance for Napoli this season and is on course to have a great season with the Partenopei.
Napoli’s midfield enforcer Allan made the squad that travelled to Colombia on Friday 6 September (for which he stayed on the bench) and welcomed Peru who left it late to deal a 1-0 defeat to their hosts on Tuesday 10 September in friendly action.
Reserve goalkeeper David Ospina, who is Colombia’s number one had good performances for his side against Allan’s Brazil, with whom they played out a 2-2 draw, but was on the bench against Venezuela on Tuesday 10 September, which ended 0-0. The former Arsenal man is a threat to Alex Meret between the sticks for Napoli and we may see the Colombian pip the Italian to the starting spot.
The all-round solid performances from the boys for their countries will be seen as positives by Ancelotti going into the next phase of the season in which the Champions League and domestic cup competitions return, before the next international break.