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Milan's International Roundup

Buffon and Cassano enjoy training with the Azzurri
While we take a quick break from Serie A, many of our players are representing their national teams in qualifying matches and friendlies around the globe. I have done my best to gather the information for which of our first team players are called up and where and when they will be playing so you can catch as many matches as you can. Divertitevi!
   
Brazil: Pato and Thiago Silva
Brazil v. Scotland in London, Sunday, March 27th - Friendly

Pato was originally called up for this friendly, but after reporting to the team in London and seeing the team doctor, he was sent back to Milan and gave up his place on the squad. This leaves only Thiago Silva to represent Milan in this match.

This game, while just a friendly, reprises the matchup of Brazil’s opening match of the 1998 World Cup, which is also the last time the teams faced each other. Played at the Emirates Stadium in London, it should be an interesting matchup of oft surprising European team meets South American powerhouse. Of course we have every confidence that Silva will keep the Scots clear of Julio Cesar and the Brazilian goal.



Colombia: Mario Yepes
Colombia v. Ecuador in Madrid, Saturday, March 26th - Friendly
Colombia v. Chile in Den Haag, Monday, March 28th - Friendly


At Milan, Yepes is a backup, a benchwarmer. But at home in Colombia, they call him captain, and he is their rock of a defender. Colombia are playing two friendlies this week against CONMEBOL rivals Ecuador and Chile, but they get to do a little sightseeing, as both matches are being played in Europe.

After his man of the match performance against Spain in February which saw Colombia lose 1-0, Yepes will be counted on to earn a win against Ecuador, and hopefully another win against even stronger Chile. These will be Colombia’s last matches before the Copa América this summer.



Germany Under 19 Squad:  Alexander Merkel
Germany U19 v. Belgium, Friday, March 25th - Friendly
Germany U19 v. Ukraine, Tuesday, March 29th - Friendly


Young Milan midfielder Alexander Merkel will get a couple of more international caps under his belt for Germany’s U19 squad this week as he travels first to Belgium and then to the Ukraine.

Merkel has represented Germany at the U15 level and every youth level through U19. With one cap so far at the U19 level and also one goal, he looks to keep impressing in these matches so as to one day join the German Senior National Team.


Greece: Sokratis Papastathopoulos
Malta v. Greece, at Ta’Qali, Saturday, March 26th - Euro 2012 Qualifier

Currently in second place in their group behind Croatia with 8 points, Greece need a win against Malta to boost their Euro qualification hopes. With match fixing and other scandals being the focal point of the domestic league in Greece, they are looking to rise above the negative press and make their country proud.

Papas has played with the Senior National Team for 2 ½ years now, and should feature in this match, despite having very little playing time at Milan.

Italy: Antonio Cassano
Slovenia v. Italy at Ljubljana, Friday, March 25th - Euro 2012 Qualifier
Ukraine v. Italy in Kiev, Tuesday, March 29th - Friendly


Having been denied many a callup under coach Marcello Lippi, and being the subject of a well-known pitch invasion campaign to allow him to represent Italy, Cassano now finds himself one of the first choice players for the Azzurri under Cesare Prandelli.

They will face a tough challenge as they travel to Slovenia for a Euro qualifier. Currently leading their group with 10 points, Italy need to win to maintain their lead. They will finish their International break with a friendly in the Ukraine, which will be another test for them, even if it is not considered a competitive match.



The Netherlands: Mark van Bommel and Urby Emanuelson
Hungary v. Netherlands, Friday, March 25th - Euro 2012 Qualifier
Netherlands v. Hungary, Tuesday, March 29th - Euro 2012 Qualifier


Mark van Bommel was called up, but will not feature for the Netherlands in these back to back qualifiers due to a training injury sustained this week. Which leaves the young Urby Emanuelson to represent Milan with the Oranje, unless you count former Milan player and the Netherlands’ current leading goal scorer, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar. (Yes, Milan fans, you read right, that was leading goalscorer!)

Playing Hungary back to back away and then at home should prove a bit of a test with their injury woes, but coming off of a second place finish in the World Cup last summer, it would be surprising if the group leaders are bested by current group second place team Hungary.

Sierra Leone: Rodney  Strasser
Niger v. Sierra Leone at Niamey, Sun., Mar. 27th-African Cup of Nations Qualifier

With Sierra Leone having drawn with both powerhouse Egypt and South Africa’s Befana Befana, Niger is highly favored to hand Sierra Leone their first loss in African Cup of Nations qualifying. But not if Milan’s young Strasser has anything to do with it. With 2 caps for Sierra Leone’s National Team under his belt, he will be looking not only for some playing time, but to upset Niger and help his little team towards qualification.



Sweden: Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Sweden v. Moldova at Solna, Tuesday, March 29th - Euro 2012 Qualifier

After having “retired” from the national team and then returning last July, Sweden will be grateful that Ibra will be available for their qualifier on Tuesday at home against Moldova. Zlatan will probably just be grateful to play, currently one match into a 3 match ban due to violent conduct in Serie A.

The Swedish team began their Euro campaign with wins against San Marino and Hungary, only to fall 4-1 to The Netherlands. They will be eager to get back to winning ways against Moldova, anything less than a win would be considered an upset. Expect Zlatan to put in a fiery performance after getting a little rest at the club level.


Enjoy watching our Rossoneri boys as they represent their national teams with pride. Feel free to leave a shoutout for the national team(s) you support in the comment section.

*Note Kevin Prince Boateng was initially called up for Ghana, however, he declined based on a recovering injury.
Also, Nnamdi Oduamadi was originally called up for Nigeria, but has been dropped from the squad prior to Saturday’s qualifer vs. Ethiopia