Is there anything interesting to say about the midweek international friendlies?

With 28 qualified nations in action last night (Tuesday) or tonight, including eight games between qualifiers and 12 others involving at least one team heading for South Africa, this is a good time to assess the usefulness of international friendlies. Is there really anything interesting to say about this week’s matches?

Yes there is.

Let’s start with the obvious. Following injuries to Ashley Cole and Rio Ferdinand, Wayne Bridge’s retirement and John Terry’s dip in form, England’s makeshift defence may well be tested against an Egyptian side which has now won the African Nations Cup three successive times. The media will start sharpening their knives should England lose or scrape a draw. A clash between Capello and the media is long overdue anyway.

Elsewhere, two tasty clashes bring former World Cup winners and one of the favourites together.

European champions Spain are up against 2006 World Cup finalists and 1998 winners France. All eyes will be on Fernando Torres as the Liverpool striker continues his recovery from a series of injuries which have blighted his season.

Also tonight, Germany face Argentina in Munich. After experimenting with homegrown talent for a while, Diego Maradona has reverted back to using mostly European-based players. Their success or failure tonight will offer more clues about the likely nature of the Argentinean squad come June. The hosts are now looking to finalise who will join Ballack and Schweinsteiger as the mainstays of the German midfield.

In Amsterdam the Netherlands take on the USA. This is a tough test for the US. How they fare against a strong Dutch side should indicate whether their hopes of progressing in South Africa are realistic or not.

Finally, last night Brazil hardly set the world alight during their warm up against the Republic of Ireland. The consensus is that they are playing within themselves at the moment and will have to raise their game to escape the so-called Group of Death.

Here’s the full list of tonight’s main games involving World Cup qualifiers:

England - Egypt
Côte d'Ivoire - Korea Republic
Greece - Senegal
Switzerland - Uruguay
Netherlands - USA
Germany - Argentina
Portugal - China PR
Italy - Cameroon
France - Spain
Bosnia-Herzegovina - Ghana
Slovakia - Norway
New Zealand - Mexico
Japan - Bahrain
Australia - Indonesia
Algeria - Serbia
Austria - Denmark
South Africa - Namibia

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