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What to watch for in this week's friendlies

Published: Monday 21 March 2016, 12.00CET
The UEFA EURO 2016 contenders are set for a week of friendly action starting Wednesday and UEFA.com gives you some pointers including call-ups for Leicester City favourites.
What to watch for in this week's friendlies
Antonio Conte is fully focused on Italy despite his post-finals departure ©Getty Images
Published: Monday 21 March 2016, 12.00CET

What to watch for in this week's friendlies

The UEFA EURO 2016 contenders are set for a week of friendly action starting Wednesday and UEFA.com gives you some pointers including call-ups for Leicester City favourites.

Wednesday:
Polish trio purring
Poland will take on Serbia boosted by the knowledge Robert Lewandowski, Arkadiusz Milik and Kamil Grosicki are all enjoying the most prolific domestic campaigns of their careers. Most notably of all, Lewandowski grabbed his 25th Bundesliga goal this term on Saturday against Köln – beating his tally of 24 for Borussia Dortmund in 2012/13 – while Milik's 16 strikes for Ajax constitute a personal record and Grosicki has managed a landmark eight for Rennes. Rich pickings then for coach Adam Nawałka, with the season still far from over.
Poland v Serbia (20.45)

Czech Republic: Top five qualifying goals

Thursday:
Opportunity knocks

Injuries to Petr Čech, Tomáš Rosický, Jaroslav Plašil and David Pavelka mean several fringe members of the Czech Republic squad – likely to be from title chasers Viktoria Plzeň and Sparta Praha – will get an opportunity to impress against Scotland in Prague on Thursday. "I will give a chance to players who are not with us yet or have not had much playing time," said coach Pavel Vrba. "I am curious about how well they will do."
Czech Republic v Scotland (20.45)

Conte keeps focus
The game against Spain will be the first for Antonio Conte since officially announcing that he will leave his post as Italy coach at the end of UEFA EURO 2016. "Whoever knows me will have no doubt about my full commitment," he said. Italy had never faced a major tournament already knowing that their coach would leave but Conte's squad selection, confirmed that he is not only focused on the short term as uncapped duo Jorginho and Federico Bernardeschi will have a chance to impress him against Spain and Germany.
Italy v Spain (20.45), Germany v Italy (Tuesday, 20.45)

History makers?
Northern Ireland will equal a record dating back 30 years if they avoid defeat against Wales at the Cardiff City Stadium. Michael O'Neill's men are eight games unbeaten, one match shy of the all-time record which was achieved twice in the 1980s. The last time Northern Ireland went nine without a loss was between 1985 and 1986 under Billy Bingham.

Bale in focus

Wales door open
Wales manager Chris Coleman will be deprived of talismanic duo Aaron Ramsey and Gareth Bale for the friendlies against Northern Ireland and Ukraine, yet believes their unavailability will encourage others to shine. "We've got some young players in the squad and it gives them a chance," he said. "One door closes, another opens. It's good for us to cast an eye on them before the tournament. I know in my head the 23 I think will be the strongest, but there's still one or two places that could be up for grabs."
Wales v Northern Ireland (20.45) & Ukraine v Wales (Monday, 18.00)

Lagerbäck undecided
Lars Lagerbäck will have plenty on his mind during Iceland's friendlies against Denmark and Greece as he continues to reflect on his future. Joint Iceland coach along with Heimir Hallgrímsson, the 67-year-old is considering a new two-year deal after his contract expires this summer. "I'm not getting any younger and this job means a lot of travelling," he said. "It'd be stupid to rule anything out as an exciting challenge may come up – maybe a part-time job – but I will make my decision before the finals in France."
Denmark v Iceland (20.45) & Greece v Iceland (Tuesday, 20.45)

Relive Turkey’s 2008 win over Croatia

Turkey's new rising star
Teenager Çağlar Söyüncü has been called into the Turkey squad to face Sweden and Austria – the only player from the second division. The 19-year-old Altınordu defender, who has been linked with Beşiktaş and Spanish side Valencia, will hope to make his international debut.
Turkey v Sweden (19.45) & Austria v Turkey (Tuesday, 20.45)

Kovalenko call-up
Ukraine
coach Mykhaylo Fomenko has omitted several regulars for the Cyprus and Wales friendlies, including Genk attacking midfielder Ruslan Malinovskiy. It turns the spotlight to the 20-year-old Viktor Kovalenko who has already established himself at Shakhtar Donetsk. He is seen by many as the new key midfielder for Ukraine but it is yet to be seen if Fomenko thinks so too. The coming matches can shed the light on that.
Ukraine v Cyprus (20.00) & Ukraine v Wales (Monday, 18.00)

Watch five great France friendly goals

Friday:
Kanté comes of age
Never capped at youth or Under-21 level, N'Golo Kanté was the surprise inclusion by Didier Deschamps for France's two friendlies after his superb form for English Premier League leaders Leicester City. "He is a midfielder with a full range of skills," Deschamps said of Kanté, who will turn 25 the day of France's match with Russia next Tuesday. His former coach at Caen, Patrice Garande, had this to say: "With his backpack, you think he is a schoolboy wandering around, but once the whistle is blown he is not shy any more."
Netherlands v France (20.45) & France v Russia (Tuesday, 21.00)

Saturday:
Hodgson open to new names

Deschamps is not the only national coach taking notice of Leicester's incredible campaign with Roy Hodgson giving 26-year-old midfielder Danny Drinkwater his first England call alongside another uncapped player featuring in the Premier League title race, Tottenham Hotspur left-back Danny Rose. "I think it would be foolish to put barriers in place," said Hodgson. "I'm not prepared to say, 'this is it' ... At the moment we're looking at a fairly large group with this group of players, but who knows? There are still five or six weeks of the season, so let's leave the door open."

Germany's EURO highlights

Tah taking next step
The new face in the Germany squad is Bayer Leverkusen's Jonathan Tah, who hopes to make his mark in the absence of injured centre-backs Jérôme Boateng and Benedikt Höwedes. His promotion represents the next step in a career well documented as the 20-year-old figured in a German football documentary tracking young talents. Tah now looks equipped to seize his chance against England and Italy. Signed as back-up by Leverkusen last summer, the strong defender has since tied down a starting spot – a process he is keen to repeat for Germany.
Germany v England (20.45) & Germany v Italy (Tuesday, 20.45)

Russia's fresh face
Two possible milestones are on the cards as Russia take on Lithuania. Zenit striker Artem Dzyuba notched his 99th career goal against Krylya Sovetov on Sunday and is eager to make it a century. Meanwhile, goalkeeper Guilherme could make his international bow having been granted Russian citizenship in November. "It took me quite a while to go through all the processes but as soon as it was done I felt I had a real chance to play for the country," said the 30-year-old, who joined Lokomotiv Moskva in 2007. "There are no words to describe my emotions when I received the call-up."
Russia v Lithuania (17.00)

Belgium: Top five qualifying goals

Tuesday:
Chance for Belgium trio
Belgium must wait until Portugal visit on Tuesday to attempt to make it six wins in a row since losing to Wales on 12 June. Coach Marc Wilmots, however, is without several injured key players in captain Vincent Kompany, Jan Vertonghen, Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne. That gives chances to debutant Björn Engels, Jason Denayer and Thorgan Hazard to push for places in the finals squad. "Engels is a player for the future; after his injuries he made a strong comeback and I want to see him in action," Wilmots said of the Club Brugge defender, while Borussia Mönchengladbach's Thorgan (Eden's younger brother) is seen as a good deputy for De Bruyne. "He plays in Germany, a very demanding league. He's an interesting player as I think he can take over De Bruyne's role in the team."
Belgium v Portugal (20.45)

Last updated: 24/03/16 23.24CET

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