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Brazil-Argentina highlights international break

Mexico Forward Javier Hernandez (14) celebrates his penalty shot goal during the international friendly soccer match between the Argentina and Mexico National Teams played at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX. Photographer: Andrew Dieb/Icon Sportswire
(Andrew Dieb/Icon Sportswire)

We got an action-packed international break ahead of us with plenty of important matches in the 2018 World Cup qualifiers. Brazil takes on rivals Argentina, while the United States goes up against their arch rival Mexico. Another big meeting takes place on Friday when England hosts Scotland at Wembley. Here are a couple of games to keep an extra eye on during the international break.

Thursday:

Brazil – Argentina (CONMEBOL Qualifiers Matchday 11):

Brazil hosts rivals Argentina in the South American qualifiers on Thursday at the Mineirao Stadium in Belo Horizonte. The Brazilians sit at the top of the standings after 10 games with 21 points and goal difference of +14. They are coming off wins over Bolivia (5-0) and Venezuela (2-0) in October. Gabriel Jesus leads the side with four goals, while Barcelona star Neymar has three.

Argentina have been disappointing so far in the qualifiers, and the game is of huge importance to Lionel Messi & Co. The Argentinians sit in sixth place, currently outside a qualification spot, and trail Brazil by five points. They have two draws and a loss in their last three games. They suffered a 1-0 defeat to Paraguay at home in their last match after a goal by Derlis Gonzalez sealed it for the visitors.

The last time the rivals met, back in November 2015, it ended in a 1-1 draw after goals by Ezequiel Lavezzi and Lucas Lima.

Friday:

England – Scotland (UEFA Qualifiers Matchday 4):

Another great rivalry meeting takes place on Friday when England takes on Scotland at Wembley Stadium in Group F of the European qualifiers.

The Three Lions sits at the top of the group after picking up wins over Slovakia and Malta, along with a draw on the road against Slovenia in their latest match. Harry Kane is back in the squad as the Tottenham striker made his first appearance for his club since coming back from injury as Spurs got a 1-1 draw against Arsenal after a goal by Kane in the second half.

Scotland sits in fourth after a win, a draw and a loss in their opening three games. They won 5-1 against Malta in their opener, with Robert Snodgrass grabbing a hat-trick. They then played a 1-1 draw at home to Lithuania before losing 3-0 on the road to Slovakia in their latest match. Scott Brown is back in the squad after coming out of retirement, and the Celtic midfielder will the be second-most capped player (50) on the team behind captain Darren Fletcher (76).

The last time they met, a friendly back in November 2014, England took a 3-1 win.

France – Sweden (UEFA Qualifiers Matchday 4):

Sweden will travel to Stade de France in the outskirts of Paris on Friday to take on France in Group A of the European qualifiers. The Swedes are tied at the top of the group with France, as both teams have started the campaign with two wins and a draw. Sweden played a 1-1 at home to the Netherlands in their opening game before grabbing wins over Luxembourg (1-0) and Bulgaria (3-0). The Swedes will have a pretty inexperienced team as Marcus Berg, Martin Olsson and Mikael Lustig are all out injured. The trio have a combined 139 caps.

France started off with a scoreless draw on the road against Belarus, but bounced back with wins over Bulgaria (4-1) and the Netherlands (1-0). Paul Pogba scored the lone goal of the game in the win over the Dutch, and the Manchester United midfielder opened up the scoring for United in their 3-1 win over Swansea City before the break.

USA – Mexico (CONCACAF Qualifiers Matchday 1):

USA kicks off the fifth round of  the “Hex” by taking on rivals Mexico on Friday at Mapfre Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. The Americans won their group in the fourth round ahead of Trinidad and Tobago, Guatemala, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. The U.S. took a 2-0 win over Cuba and a 1-1 draw against New Zealand in their two friendlies in October.

Mexico dominated their group in the fourth round, picking up five wins and a draw in six matches, and finished ahead of Honduras, Canada and El Salvador. The Mexicans has a wealth of experience in Rafa Marquez (133 caps) and Andres Guardado (131 caps). Bayer Leverkusen striker Javier Hernandez leads the line at the front with 45 goals in 86 caps.

Mexico took a 3-2 win when the teams met in the Confederations Cup last summer.

Saturday:

Morocco – Ivory Coast (CAF Qualifiers Matchday 2):

The Ivory Coast will look to get a firm hold of Group C in the fourth round of the African qualifiers. The Elephants picked up a 3-1 win over Mali in the opening game in October after goals by Jonathan Kodjia and Gervinho along with an own goal by Salif Coulibaly. After the trip to Morocco, they will go up against France in a friendly.

Morocco were held to a scoreless draw on the road against Gabon in their opener. After the draw, they picked up a 4-0 win over Canada in a friendly. The Ivory Coast are ranked 31st on the FIFA rankings, while Morocco are down in 60th place.

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