We’re reached the final international break of the calendar year and it promises to be a big one, as Euro 2024 qualification reaches its conclusion.
The pause to the Premier League schedule often brings groans from football fans, but there’s plenty to keep an eye on over the coming days.
We’ve picked out five of the best fixtures taking place during November’s international break
England vs Malta – Friday, November 17th
England have made light work of qualification for next summer’s European Championship, with Gareth Southgate’s side having confirmed their place at the finals with games to spare. The Three Lions conclude their qualification campaign with clashes against Malta and North Macedonia, as Southgate fine-tunes his side for a tilt at Euros success.
The former have lost seven straight games in qualification, scoring just twice and conceding 18 goals, ahead of their visit to Wembley on Friday evening. While Malta are not expected to offer much in terms of a contest, the fixture is an ideal chance for Southgate – often reluctant to experiment – to provide opportunities to others.
“I thought it was a blag at first!”
Definitely real, Cole 😂 pic.twitter.com/MOTMiBzDl7
— England (@England) November 14, 2023
Ezri Konsa, Rico Lewis and Cole Palmer were each called up to the senior squad for the first time this week, while Ollie Watkins will hope for another audition at centre-forward after Callum Wilson’s withdrawal from the squad.
Netherlands vs Republic of Ireland – Saturday, November 18th
The Netherlands have work to do to secure a place at the European Championship, ahead of fixtures with Ireland and Gibraltar this month. The Dutch are second in Group B, behind group winners France and level on points with third-placed Greece.
Virgil van Dijk’s penalty handed the Oranje a late win in Greece last time out, leaving their fate in their own hands ahead of the final round of qualifiers. Ronald Koeman has again named an inexperienced squad, with first inclusions for 17-year-old Ajax defender Jorrel Hato and Toulouse striker Thijs Dallinga, who scored home and away against Liverpool in this season’s Europa League group stage.
The Netherlands can confirm their place at Euro 2024 with a win over Ireland this weekend, who have endured a largely miserable qualification campaign in a difficult group.
Manchester United vs Manchester City (WSL) – Sunday, November 19th
There’s a big Manchester Derby in the Women’s Super League this weekend, as Manchester United host Manchester City at Old Trafford.
Marc Skinner’s Manchester United side – runners-up last season – arrive into the contest unbeaten in the WSL, while the Red Devils have been in free-scoring form of late with big wins over Everton (5-0), Everton (7-0 – FA Cup) and West Ham (5-0) in their last four fixtures.
Having bounced back from their Champions League exit to PSG, United will be hoping for a positive result against their neighbours to keep up the pressure on Chelsea and Arsenal above them.
— Barclays Women’s Super League (@BarclaysWSL) November 14, 2023
Manchester City started the season in strong form, including a draw with champions Chelsea, but have wobbled of late with back-to-back defeats to Arsenal and Brighton. Jill Roord has impressed since arriving from Wolfsburg during the summer, with three goals in four league appearances. The Dutch international is City’s joint-leading scorer this season, alongside Chloe Kelly.
Ukraine vs Italy – Monday, November 20th
England are confirmed as winners of Group C in Euro 2024 qualification, but the race to see who joins the Three Lions in progressing from the group looks set to go to the wire.
Ukraine sit second, three points ahead of Italy having played a game more than the Azzurri. Italy host North Macedonia in their game in hand on November 17, where a win would take the teams level on points ahead of a final-game shootout on November 20th.
Italy beat Ukraine 2-1 in a hard-fought contest in September, courtesy of Davide Frattesi’s double at the San Siro. The return fixture will be hosted at Bayer Leverkusen’s BayArena in Germany, due to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.
Ukraine will hope Artem Dovbyk can continue his excellent club form this season, having scored seven La Liga goals in 13 games since signing for Girona last summer. Viktor Tsyhankov also joined his compatriot at Girona and is Ukraine’s leading scorer in qualification, while Shakhtar Donetsk striker Danylo Sikan has scored three goals in four Champions League games this season.
Wales vs Turkey – Tuesday, November 21st
Wales kept alive their hopes of reaching the European Championship after shocking World Cup semi-finalists Croatia last time out. Harry Wilson’s brace earned Wales a 2-1 win in Cardiff, lifting Rob Page’s side above Croatia and into second place in the group.
It’s crunch time now for Wales, who travel to face an Armenia side who are still in the race for qualification, before hosting group leaders Turkey.
“We’ve never stopped believing in this group. We’ve been here before.”#TogetherStronger
— Wales 🏴 (@Cymru) November 13, 2023
A positive result in Armenia would leave Wales’ fate in their own hands against a Turkish team who have confirmed their place at the finals. Wales have included the uncapped Jay Dasilva – who represented England up to u21 level – and Sunderland full-back Niall Huggins in their latest squad. Brennan Johnson returns to the squad having missed out in October due to injury and scored for Spurs in the Premier League last weekend.