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Three tasty managerial match-ups to watch during the international break

England return to action with a hat-trick of fixtures
England return to action with a hat-trick of fixtures

It’s approaching eight weeks since Gareth Southgate’s England and Roberto Mancini’s Italy contested the Euro 2020 Final at Wembley.

It was the sharply-dressed Italian who grabbed the continental spoils as he added another sparkling trophy to his glistening collection.

But, as is always the way, attention has swiftly turned to the 2022 World Cup which is less than 18 months away.

The first international break of the season is now upon us, so without further ado, we bring you three tasty managerial match-ups to watch over the course of the next week...

Ståle Solbakken (Norway) vs Louis van Gaal (Netherlands)

Wednesday 1st September (7.45pm)

"I think if I was the Dutch Football Association, I'd also have approached me. Who else could have done it?"

This was a typically modest Louis van Gaal after his return to management was confirmed last month. 

The Dutchman replaced his former Ajax and Barcelona player Frank de Boer at the helm of the Netherlands national team after the latter resigned following Holland’s Euro 2020 last-16 exit.

Van Gaal previously failed to lead Holland to the 2002 World Cup but bounced back to finish third at the 2014 World Cup - will his third coming inspire a turnaround in fortunes?

The veteran boss, 70, kicks-off his third spell in charge away to Norway on Wednesday night in an important World Cup qualifier: Group G is a tight and tense affair to date with Turkey on seven points, a point ahead of Netherlands, Montenegro, and Norway.

Over in the Norwegian dugout you’ll find the former Wolves boss Ståle Solbakken who has won three of his five games since his December appointment.

His stint in the Midlands didn’t quite go to plan - he was sacked in 2013 after six months - but in two spells in charge of Copenhagen he accrued eight league titles and four cups.

Tite (Brazil) vs Lionel Scaloni (Argentina)

Sunday 5th September (8pm)

There’s rarely a dull moment when these two international titans do battle.

Tite’s Brazil have been outstanding in South America’s qualifying so far, amassing a maximum 18 points from six qualification games. In fact, the boss has only lost five of his 61 matches in charge, spanning five years.

The 100% start already puts the Seleção six points ahead of second-placed Argentina who are also unbeaten but they’ve been held to a draw in three of their games.

Manager Lionel Scaloni (58.82% win rate) did, however, recently get the upper hand over Tite in the 2021 Copa América Final; a 1-0 win in Brazil which was the country’s first major trophy in a whopping 28-years. 

They’ll be Premier League interest in Argentina’s Aston Villa duo of Emiliano Martinez and Emi Buendia plus Cristian Romero and Giovani Lo Celso from Spurs, while Brazil will be without a number of their English-based talent including the likes of ​​Ederson, Alisson, Thiago Silva, Fred, Fabinho, Roberto Firmino, Gabriel Jesus, Richarlison, Douglas Luiz, and Raphinha.

This could therefore make Scaloni’s Argentina a tasty bet at 3/1 with William Hill, which would be his third consecutive win over Tite.

Paulo Sousa (Poland) vs Gareth Southgate (England)

Wednesday 8th September (7.45pm)

Leaders England have collected maximum points from three Group I games so far which they could well have extended to five wins out of five prior to the trip to Poland next Wednesday; the Three Lions travel to Hungary and host Andorra before then.

Gareth Southgate will be eager for his troops to continue the momentum from the Euros as England bid to propel their unbeaten run - excluding penalties - to 14 matches. He has an envious assortment of talent at his disposal and has added Patrick Bamford and Trent-Alexander Arnold to his latest squad.

Poland are managed by the former QPR, Swansea, and Leicester boss Paulo Sousa who is feeling the heat after one win from eight games so far, which includes a poor showing at Euro 2020 where they picked up one point in a bottom place finish in Group E.

Sousa desperately needs to pick up six points from matches against Albania and San Marino, otherwise Poland’s World Cup hopes will be severely on the ropes, as will Sousa’s future.

Robert Lewandowski coupled with England's catalogue of attacking talent means we can expect goals in Warsaw.

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