Glamour ties

Get on the couch... these are the top international friendlies going on around Europe tonight

If Ireland v USA isn’t as awesome as we hope, there’s plenty more.

NO DOUBT, HOMES and pubs across the country will be glued to the Yanks’ visit to the Aviva Stadium tonight.

In case that tie turns out to be an early Thanksgiving turkey, however, here’s a round-up of some of the best international fixtures on offer elsewhere.

Scotland v England

Shaun Maloney celebrates with Charlie Mulgrew after scoring his side's first goal Shaun Maloney celebrates his goal against Ireland. James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

The neighbours face off in friendly format tonight, although the atmosphere at Celtic Park might be anything but.

Having secured a win against the Boys in Green on Friday night, Scotland go into the game on a high and with plenty to prove to their rivals after a tense year in Anglo-Scottish relations. Scott Brown claims that the fixture “means much, much more” to Scotland. “We are brought up to believe beating England is as good as it gets,” said the Celtic man.

Roy Hodgson is expected to field a young England side, including West Brom’s Saido Berahino and Everton’s Ross Barkley. Joe Hart was released to return to Manchester City after England’s win against Slovenia, which means ex-Celtic and current Southampton stopper Fraser Forster could start in his place.

Wayne Rooney has spoken up about the noise at Celtic Park, stressing the need for younger players in the squad to ‘blank it out’. “You don’t realise until you actually play there what the atmosphere is like,” said the England captain.

Rooney’s warnings were echoed by former England captain Terry Butcher: “Scotland and England don’t do friendly in football. It will be manic. When I say hostile, I don’t mean physically hostile, it will just be the noise.”

There are in fact concerns that stadium tensions could boil over. The two teams met in a Euro 2000 play-off in Hampden Park in 1999 and clashes in the stadium and in Glasgow city centre resulted in 230 arrests. The last meeting between the sides went ahead trouble-free at Wembley last year.

However, Glasgow police have warned of the possibility of a hooligan fringe causing trouble in the city and have cancelled all police leave for the evening. “We anticipate arrests,” Chief Superintendent Andy Bates told The Daily Record, “but not as many as in 1999.”

Kick-off: 8pm

TV: ITV / ITV HD / Sky Sports 1 / Sky Sports 1 HD / Sky Sports 5 / Sky Sports 5 HD

Odds: Scotland 31/10, England 15/13, Draw 12/5

Spain v Germany

Joachim Loew Joachim Löw looks on as Germany face Ireland. Donall Farmer / INPHO Donall Farmer / INPHO / INPHO

Neither Spain nor Germany have really produced the displays you would expect from the last two World Cup Champions in the current qualifying campaign. Germany surprisingly find themselves three points adrift of the top spot in Ireland’s own Group D, while Spain lag behind Slovakia in Group C by the same margin.

The home side, wounded by a disastrous early exit in Brazil, are eager to show that their golden era isn’t dead yet. Spain manager Vicente del Bosque has promised his team will aim to impress. “We want to play well, to put on a show,” he said yesterday.

Germany boss Joachim Löw has been comparatively low-key about his expectations, whilst claiming that Spain are a “perfect test” for Die Mannschaft: “If we lose I won’t consider it a defeat that would compromise our chances for next year. It’s not so important.”

Löw also claimed that Germany were suffering from tiredness having exhausted themselves in the pursuit of World Cup glory this summer. “We need a good break and a long holiday so everyone can recharge our batteries,” he said.

Ballon D’Or nominee Manuel Neuer has returned to Munich after straining his right knee in Friday’s 4-0 win over Gibraltar, while Christoph Kramer, Jerome Boateng and Marco Reus are also among the absentees.Meanwhile Spain are missing Chelsea pair Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas due to injuries and are expected to make numerous changes to the side which beat Belarus 3-0.

Kick-off:  7:45pm

Odds: Spain 13/10, Germany 23/10, Draw 28/11

Portugal v Argentina

Cristiano Ronaldo Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates a Portugal goal. Donall Farmer / INPHO Donall Farmer / INPHO / INPHO

The Ronaldo v Messi Cup rolls into Old Trafford tonight for a marquee international friendly. As is to be expected, all eyes will be on the two Ballon D’Or rivals in a game that probably won’t settle any undecided votes.

That’s not to say there isn’t plenty of value in the fixture. It’s likely to feature another Ballon D’Or nominee, Manchester United’s Angel di Maria, not to mention his cross-town rivals Sergio Aguero, Pablo Zabaleta and Martin Demichelis. Manchester’s favourite Argentinian, Carlos Tevez, also returns from a three year absence from the national side.

Ahead of the game, lines have been drawn between the two nations and their respective allegiances to their respective star. Ricardo Carvalho described Ronaldo as “almost perfect” while Argentina boss Gerardo Martino claimed his heart “lies with Messi”. Both regularly referred to national pride in their testimonies.

The last time the two nations met, both Messi and Ronaldo were on the scoresheet in a 2-1 win for Argentina. This will be only the second time they have met on the international stage, though they have faced off 27 times in club competitions.

Nonetheless, ticket sales for the glamour friendly have stalled – most likely due to the £40-£60 adult ticket price tag. Old Trafford’s upper stands have been shut, leaving 40,000 seats available to fans. Only 36,000 tickets have been flogged.

Kick-off: 7:45pm


Odds: Portugal 7/2, Argentina 19/20, Draw 11/4

France v Sweden

Johan Elmander celebrates scoring his sides first goal Sweden's Johan Elmander is congratulated by Zlatan Ibrahimovic. James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

Rounding up the highlights for tonight are Euro 2016 hosts France, whose match against Sweden represents a vital progress check in a long friendly-packed year for Les Bleus.

Unfortunately for the thrill-seeking neutral, Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been released from the Swedish squad having scored on his return from injury against Montenegro last weekend.

France drew 1-1 with Albania on Friday. A goal from substitute Antoine Griezemann spared some blushes. Manager Didier Deschamps is expected to make some changes, bringing in Andre-Pierre Gignac and replacing Spurs’ Hugo Lloris with Steve Mandanda in goal. Sweden have released Marcus Berg and Mikael Lustig following their draw with Montenegro.

Paul Pogba, who underperformed for France in Friday’s draw, has promised his new contract with Juventus hasn’t blurred his focus. “This is not going to give me a big head,” he claimed, and listed winning Euro 2016 among his career goals.

Kick-off: 8pm

Odds: France 5/11, Sweden 39/5, Draw 39/11

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