Yanga-Mbiwa could be France's next great defender - what we learned from Wednesday's international friendlies

With the domestic season soon to get under way, a number of players took the opportunity to show their national team coaches what they can offer on the road to Brazil 2014
By Sam Lee

It may not be a popular set of fixtures, but the midweek international friendlies have given fans and pundits alike plenty of food for thought ahead of the upcoming World Cup qualifiers.

Argentina are not just about Messi, Aguero and Di Maria, Leandro Damiao will not have it all his own way as he bids to become Brazil's go-to man, the Dutch underperformers have come under pressure from a young talent, and France's Didier Deschamps may have found a star defender in his first game in charge.

Read to on discover what Goal.com learned from Wednesday's international friendlies.

Yanga-Mbiwa destined for stardom

France and Uruguay must be the world's most boring international fixture, with the sides playing out a 0-0 draw for the fourth successive time in Le Havre on Wednesday night. The home side, though, looked the better of the two outfits, particularly after the break, as they created more going forward.

It was, however, a member of their rearguard who shone. AC Milan target Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa looked like a veteran in the centre of the defence, making several well-timed challenges and producing a performance worthy of man of the match. Les Bleus have had real troubles in the heart of their defence due to a lack of pace, but the rounded nature of the Montpellier defender's game suggests that he could make the position his own for quite some time.

Destro can make Italy step-up

Back in early June, Mattia Destro was one of the unfortunate ones. After being selected among Cesare Prandelli's 32-man pre-squad for Euro 2012, he missed out on a final call when it really mattered. Two months on, and he has already staked a claim to be taken more seriously in the forthcoming World Cup campaign, thanks to a promising display against England.

The new Roma striker started for the first time in the azzurro and quickly became the side's focal point, causing the Three Lions' back four all sorts of trouble with his runs onto through-balls both over and through the defence. He also created a couple of half-chances for himself with very clever footwork, suggesting that even when Mario Balotelli, Giuseppe Rossi and Antonio Cassano are on the scene, he could well be considered for more regular international football in the near future.

Schurrle deserves to be Germany starter

By the end of Euro 2012, it had become obvious that Andre Schurrle deserved a place in Joachim Low's starting XI. And after his introduction in the 3-1 loss to Argentina, it was even more apparent. While the Bayer Leverkusen forward's compatriots struggled to make any sort of impression on the match, Schurrle's introduction heralded a change in approach: his presence in the left-wing channel brought a new-found dynamism to die Mannschaft's attack thanks his ability to find his team-mates, while his willingness to shoot was something missing prior to his entry. Just what else he, along with Mario Gotze, needs to do to earn a regular slot in Low's plans remains a mystery, though.

Sosa criticism unwarranted

Amid Alejandro Sabella's all-star cast of attackers, one name has always stuck out: that of Jose Sosa. The Metalist Kharkiv midfielder's reputation may not compare to Lionel Messi's, Sergio Aguero's and Angel Di Maria's, but on the evidence of his performance in Frankfurt, his ability to pick a pass and find space is priceless. It was Sosa who made the break from midfield which led to Ron-Robert Zieler's dismissal and it was Sosa who put a fantastic ball across the face of goal, only for Gonzalo Higuain to miss from a matter of feet. He was replaced after 45 minutes in favour of Aguero and Argentina lost much of the dynamism in their attack as a result.

Atletico losers in pointless Spain trip

Spain's Football Federation pocketed €2 million for Wednesday's friendly in Puerto Rico, but that will be little consolation to Atletico Madrid, who saw full-back Juanfran Torres pick up an injury and will be without their sole Euro 2012 winner for the start of La Liga, and possibly for the Uefa Super Cup against Chelsea, too. 

Vicente del Bosque had said before the match that the aim was to come through it without injuries. Unfortunately for Juanfran and for Atletico, they were not able to.

The game itself was nothing more than a training session and even the goals were celebrated only with mild applause. The players did not want to be there, neither did the coach and certainly not their clubs. Nobody will miss this ill-timed international date when it is scrapped next year. Not before time. Spain would also be wise to think twice about such long trips ahead of important domestic fixtures in future.

Narsingh ready to explode

The PSV winger featured from the start as Louis van Gaal opted for a traditional 4-3-3 formation, and Luciano Narsingh did not disappoint the new Oranje coach. The former Heerenveen star caused his direct opponent all kinds of trouble with his electric pace, and he was unlucky not to get an assist to his name as Ricardo van Rhijn and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar failed to find the net from his pinpoint crosses. The 21-year-old rewarded himself for a fine performance with his first goal for Netherlands as he fired home a cross from Arjen Robben after the break.

Pato will fight Leandro Damiao

Leandro Damiao staked his claim to lead the line for the Selecao with a blistering goal-scoring record last year, and he continued with a series of impressive displays at the Olympics. He again looked to have been decisive with his goal against Sweden, but with the game in the balance it was his replacement, Alexandre Pato, who gave the scoreline the polish it deserved. A simple header was followed by an excellent run which earned his team a penalty that he then converted. Damiao cannot afford to go quiet for so long as the AC Milan striker is hot on his tails for the role of striker.