The second international break is upon us and there will be a plethora of qualification games for Euro 2024 with 9 countries already qualified, we may not see too many shocks and all the big nations should qualify. England of course have qualified but they will have to finish off their group games and the next one will be against Malta at home. The gulf in football would mean that if England scored less than five goals the game over Malta would feel tinged with disappointment. England will start next summer's tournament as one of the favourites to win it and finally bring home a major international trophy for the first time since 1966. This England team genuinely look exciting and while that has been said for most English teams of the past 40 years none of them have featured a 20 year old superstar who plays for Real Madrid. Bellingham is on the current levels of young Cristiano Ronaldo and is scoring goals for fun and winning games at the Spanish giants. It is not a stretch to think that Bellingham could be named world player of the year next year, and he is on course to become the greatest player that England have ever produced. That sounds like hyperbole but you don't get to play for Real Madrid at such a young age if you're not special and for now he is justifying the hype.
But throughout the national side there is hope that they could go down in history as one of the best outfits. Harry Kane may feel like a veteran of the squad now but his switch to Bayern Munich has been one of the best decisions of his career. Kane has scored 19 goals already in all competitions for the German giants and he has been an instant hit. Sometimes when a striker who scores many goals only stays in one league it is hard to gauge how great a player they are, the fact that Kane has now done it in England and Germany just underlines what a talent he is. The young Cole Palmer has been called up to the national team and he oozes confidence and has already played for Manchester City and Chelsea. His cool conversion of an important penalty against his former side last weekend gave Chelsea a crucial draw and he looks like a real talent. And then you can add the familiar faces with a whole host of talent the likes of Phil Foden, Jack Grealish, Jarrod Bowen. Reece James and James Maddison. Some of these players and notably Bellingham will be injured for the Malta game, that won't matter though, England will still win easily enough. At the end of the day for England it is a dead rubber game but there is a real sense that this England side are the real deal and 58 years of hurt may be about to end.
To win Euro 2024: England 5.00, France 5.00, Germany 8.00, Spain 9.00, Portugal 10.00
Perhaps we are seeing what Chelsea can become under Mauricio Pochettino? Certainly there last two games are convincing younger fans who have been posting praise for a side who look 'exciting' and 'vibrant'. It is easy to swallow the hype for now given that the Blues have scored 8 goals past two top sides in the league. First they went to Tottenham and won 4-1. Albeit that included an implosion of a Spurs side who played like manager Ange Postecoglou had given them 10 coffees followed by 10 energy drinks and asked them to go for it. Tottenham were like a team possessed and took an early lead and Chelsea just looked poor and worried. However the home side had not one but two players sent off and Chelsea eased back into the game. Suddenly there was, for the first time this season, confusion in the Tottenham team and Chelsea ran out deserved winners. Next up they had to face the champions and had to come back three times as the game finished 4-4. It has already been hailed as one of the best Premier League games and a classic and it surely was one of them. Once City had taken the lead there only seemed to be one winner but Chelsea fought back and against 11 men this time. Erling Haaland managed to score two goals but in the end the draw did seem like a fair result. Rodri seemed to have won it for City near the end with a cruel deflected shot before Cole Palmer came back to haunt his former side with a 95th minute penalty. Indeed with Raheem Sterling also getting on the score sheet there was much to ponder for City who have let some of their best players leave in recent years for Premier League rivals.
Chelsea do look exciting now and if you are scoring goals that is always a good sign. It was interesting to see the fight from the Blues at home to City, but where was that fight when they were losing and then lost games at home to Brentford and Nottingham Forest two sides that you need to be beating at home when you have spent a billion pounds in just over a year. The jury will remain out but certainly with their brand of attacking football Chelsea are going to attract fans of the game to watch them on television not just in England but around the world. The Blues are the buzz team after two weeks of exciting football, but football is a fickle ever rapidly changing game and it only takes a 0-0 or 1-0 win or loss in the next few games to bring that hyperbole crashing back down over west London- Chelsea's next game is away to Newcastle and I think we are already counting the goal tally up.
We know about the 115 charges against Manchester City which spread over a decade and one would hope for the fairness of the game that these charges are brought forward and if City are deemed to be guilty then this gets sorted out as quickly as possible. For now this is a story that looks like it will drag and drag on because 9 months on there has been next to no updates on the situation. A new story emerging though is Chelsea and they may have been found to have breached FFP rules dating back to 2003 when Roman Abramovich took over. It's interesting to note that when Everton allegedly breached FFP rules they were not only charged but were then referred to an independent enquiry all within a year, it seems for the richer bigger sides charges can take not just years but decades to unravel. This gives the biggest teams with the biggest financial clout time to adjust and prepare for any charges. Manchester City has been one example now we have seen it from Chelsea and that can't be simply put down to just a coincidence. Both clubs have changed the footballing landscape not just in the Premier League but in world football too and have won 3 Champions League titles between them. It has to be questioned if they would have any between them once all of these enquiries and charges have been sought after and looked into.