England flagging, Germany find form, Brazil put on the style as Argentina on cruise control

March 27 – As the international break draws to a close and players return to club football for the business end of the season, national sides tested the waters across a host of international friendlies that could send shockwaves across the next FIFA World Rankings update in April. 

March’s round of fixtures also presented the opportunity for Nike and Adidas to model their new kits ahead of the Summer tournaments.

England christened their controversial new home shirt (Nike changed the colours of the England flag) with the first loss at Wembley in three years as manager Gareth Southgate came under fire yet again for his team’s ‘boring’ style of play, before scraping to a last-minute draw with Belgium courtesy of Jude Bellingham’s 95th minute equaliser three days later.

With both Brazil and Belgium accompanying England inside the top five nations of the FIFA world rankings, the results could spark some movement amongst the big boys ahead of the next update in April.

Belgium midfielder Youri Tielemans secured an impressive brace in front of the Wembley crowd, capitalising on Jordan Pickford’s clumsy goal kick early in the match before producing a flying header finish to convert Romelu Lukaku’s trivela cross in style.

In the match versus Brazil, future Real Madrid star Endrick (pictured) scored the only goal of the game, becoming the youngest Brazilian goalscorer since Ronaldo in the process.

The absence of England Captain Harry Kane was clear to see as Southgate’s side failed to capitalise on their chances across both matches, lining up against a heavily rotated defensive partnerships on both occasions.

Elsewhere, the Germans hit good form heading into this Summer’s European Championships on home soil by beating France away from home this weekend, followed by a late victory over the Netherlands on Tuesday.

Beating second-ranked France 2-0, goals came from Leverkusen’s Florian Wirtz and Arsenal’s Kai Havertz, with Wirtz having put his side in the lead after just seven seconds with a long-range stunner straight from kickoff.

The Germans then left it late against Netherlands but still came out on top courtesy of Niclas Fullkrug’s 89th goal.

The results marked statement victories for Germany interim boss Julian Nagelsmann, who is out of a job after the Euros regardless of where his team places.

Performances such as these put the German back in the shop window, with Bayern Munich, Liverpool, Barcelona, Man United and Chelsea all eyeing a new head coach this summer.

The 2014 World Cup Champs are currently ranked 16th in the world, whilst France sit second and Netherlands place sixth.

Meanwhile, the once high-flying Portugal came crashing down with an unlikely 2-0 loss against Slovenia. The last time Ronaldo’s side lost a match was to Morocco in the FIFA World Cup 2022 Quarter Finals, bringing an end to a winning streak that stretched over a year.

Elsewhere, Colombia beat Spain 1-0 at the London Stadium on Sunday, helped by an inspired performance from the once-wonderkid James Rodriguez who looked back to his old self after coming on at half time.

The Spaniards then faced Brazil on Tuesday night but were held to a draw after a six-goal thriller.

World Champions Argentina coasted to a comfortable 3-0 victory over El Salvador, modelling their new Adidas kit with appropriate gold trimmings. The squad then hosted Costa Rica, putting on another three-goal display to finish a break that offered no real challenge to the Messi-less Argentines.

The wins, paired with other factors lower down the table, mean that Argentina are highly likely to remain top of the world rankings after the April ranking reshuffle.

Contact the writer of this story, Harry Ewing, at moc.l1711620756labto1711620756ofdlr1711620756owedi1711620756sni@g1711620756niwe.1711620756yrrah1711620756