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Time for Netherlands to wave Kuyt goodbye and what we learned from Wednesday's international friendlies

Time for Netherlands to wave Kuyt goodbye and what we learned from Wednesday's international friendlies

Messi quiso pero no pudo / Getty

A weakened Albiceleste failed to fire against Saudi Arabia, and there were similar problems for Brazil and Netherlands, though Spain and France continued on the right track

ANALYSIS
Compiled by Sam Lee

Midweek international breaks may not be the most popular thing in football, especially when crammed in between domestic weekends, but Wednesday's matches will certainly have proven useful for many top coaches.

Whether it be Louis van Gaal realising he has to cast the old guard to one side or Alejandro Sabella scratching his head over how to blend in some new faces, the midweek fixtures have provided plenty to ponder ahead of the next round of World Cup qualifiers.

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

Argentina need to find strength in depth


Those who came into the side in the absence of Gonzalo Higuain and Fernando Gago failed to impress as Argentina lacked the fluidity they have found recently, when Lionel Messi and Sergio Aguero buzzed around the Real Madrid striker. They were fortunate not concede against Saudi Arabia, with Franco Di Santo, Tino Costa and Eduardo Salvio all failing to make much of an impression on what was a real chance to stake their claims for a place in Alejandro Sabella's long-term plans.

Menezes still searching for answers

 
Brazil's striker-less system with Neymar as a 'false nine' may well have brought goals by the bucket load against weaker opposition, but it failed to produce in its first real test against a strong Colombia side. Menezes' 4-2-2-2/4-2-3-1 was way too narrow in the first half and repeatedly left Dani Alves and Leandro Castan isolated against Jose Pekerman's onrushing full-backs. Thiago Neves was largely anonymous once again, leaving you with the feeling that Menezes perhaps missed an opportunity to truly test an improving Lucas Moura at the highest level.

Deschamps has France moving forward


The departure of Laurent Blanc in the summer was initially seen as a major blow to the France national side, yet Didier Deschamps has managed to quickly win favour with fans of les Bleus thanks to some fine recent results, particularly away from home. October's draw against Spain gave the former world champions a chance to progress automatically to the 2014 World Cup, and Wednesday's victory over Italy confirmed their strength on the road. Particularly impressive for Deschamps' men was Mathieu Valbuena, who thrived under the former Olympique de Marseille coach at club level and appears a candidate to do so for the national side. He grabbed his side's first goal with a wonderful strike, eclipsed perhaps only by Zlatan Ibrahimovic in midweek, while Bafetimbi Gomis netted the winner.

It's time to cut Kuyt loose


Louis van Gaal somewhat surprisingly opted to give Dirk Kuyt the nod ahead of Klaas-Jan Huntelaar against Germany, but the Fenerbahce man did nothing to justify his inclusion. The 32-year-old threatened only once all game long - when he set up Daryl Janmaat - and generally looked out of his depth. Kuyt no longer has the pace to add something to the team on the right wing, while Oranje have better alternatives for the striker position through Huntelaar, Robin van Persie and Luuk de Jong. The experienced attacker has been an integral part of the national team for the past nine seasons, but his Netherlands career appears to be nearing its end.

Little to gain from ill-judged friendlies

Paulo Bento and his side were on a hiding to nothing venturing into the unknown in Gabon for what was, from a Portuguese perspective, a meaningless friendly. The match was gloriously odd: a mixture of a dodgy pitch, dodgier officials and a partisan crowd laying the foundations for an almighty upset. Despite fielding an experimental line-up, Bento probably learned little from the contest - though he will be pleased by the contributions of Sporting Braga forward Eder and goalscorer Pizzi in midfield. The biggest lesson learned was probably not to play friendlies on terrible pitches against countries who view Portugal as a prize scalp and play as if their lives depend upon it.

Spain still united on the pitch


Amid calls for Catalan independence, controversy over Athletic Bilbao's Markel Susaeta referring to the Spanish national team as "the thing" and protests all over the country on Wednesday, la Roja proved there is unity on the pitch at least.

Millions took to the streets across Spain to protest against high unemployment, constant cuts and low wages on Wednesday, as the country's football team met Panama in a lucrative friendly worth €3million to the Spanish Football Federation.

And Panama got their money's worth. Pedro (from Tenerife) netted twice, David Villa (Asturias) scored on his first start since a broken leg, Sergio Ramos (Seville) hammered home a fantastic free kick and Susaeta (the Basque Country) marked his debut with a goal, too, in a comprehensive 5-1 win. So while the country may be on its knee and divided right now, Spain united on Wednesday to do what they currently do best - win football matches.

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