Ten international matches not to be missed this June

With the World Cup not taking place until 21 November-18 December, a double FIFA international window will take place in the summer.

Despite the absence of the World Cup, there's still plenty of exciting international football going on around the globe between 1-14 June.

So, we've picked out ten international matches not to be missed, all taking place across the next fortnight.

Italy vs Argentina: Finalísima

Date: 1 June. Kick off time: 14:45 (ET), 19:45 (UK), 20:45 (CEST). Venue: Wembley.

2021's European Championship and Copa América champions clash at Wembley as the Finalísima returns.

This is the third instalment of this competition, after UEFA and CONMEBOL signed a 'memorandum of understanding' last year.

In previous editions, France beat Uruguay 2-0 in Paris in 1985 before, eight years later, Argentina ousted Denmark on penalties in Mar del Plata.

So, 29 years later, la Albiceleste are looking to retain a trophy previously known as the Artemio Franchi Cup.

Amazingly, these two nations met at five consecutive World Cup Finals between 1974 and 1990.

Gli Azzurri actually claimed a 1-0 group phase victory in 1978 before Argentina went on to lift the trophy on home soil.

Four years later, the Italians won 2-1 in Barcelona, before claiming the third world title less than two weeks later.

Their most recent competitive clash is their most famous, taking place at Stadio San Paolo in the 1990 World Cup semi-finals.

Despite the fact the game was taking place in Italy, the Neapolitan crowd were very much overtly supporting Diego Maradona's Argentina.

The match finished 1-1 with la Albiceleste advancing on penalties, before going down 1-0 to Germany five days later.

Italy and Argentina last met in a friendly in Manchester four years ago and they'll do battle in England again, this time with silverware on the line.

Wales vs Scotland/Ukraine: World Cup Play-off Final

Date: 5 June. Kick off time: 12:00 (ET), 17:00 (UK), 19:00 (EEST). Venue: Cardiff City Stadium.

Just three tickets to Qatar are still up for grabs coming into this international window, the first of which will be handed out in Cardiff.

Wales are one of the play-off finalists after Gareth Bale's brace saw off Austria on a memorable night in March.

This means the Dragons are still on course to qualify for the World Cup for the first time in 64 years.

Their opponents will be determined four days earlier as Scotland take on Ukraine at Hampden.

Following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, this semi-final was postponed but, in-spite of the ongoing conflict, the Blue and Yellow are raring to go.

Ukraine's only World Cup appearance as an independent nation came in 2006, while Scotland haven't qualified for 24 years.

Whoever gets through in Glasgow will then be faced with a wall of noise in Cardiff on the Sunday night.

The Dragons have won six of their last eight games against the Tartan Army, who have not won on Welsh soil since 1983.

So, Rob Page's men are favourites to reach Qatar 2022, but their visitors for the final will be equally right up for the ocassion.

Peru vs UAE/Australia: World Cup Inter-Confederation Play-off Final

Date: 13 June. Kick off time: 14:00 (ET), 19:00 (UK), 4:00 (AEST+1). Venue: Al-Rayyan Stadium.

Two teams who met at the last World Cup in Sochi could clash for a place at this winter's finals in Qatar.

One of the two play-off finalists is currently unknown with the AFC fourth round match scheduled for 7 June.

In that one, the United Arab Emirates will take on Australia in Al Rayyan with the winners advancing to the final six days later.

The Socceroos certainly expect to prevail in that having appeared at each of the last four World Cups, last missing one two decades ago.

If Graham Arnold's team do come through, Australia will face Peru, 13 days before the four-year anniversary of their World Cup clash in Russia.

La Blanquirroja ended their 36-year World Cup exile last time round, but are now confident of qualifying back-to-back.

Incidentally, it finished 1-1 in 2018 but, assuming it's Australia vs Peru again, there will have to be a winner in this hugely high-pressure fixture.

Costa Rica vs New Zealand: World Cup Inter-Confederation Play-off Final

Date: 14 June. Kick off time: 14:00 (ET), 19:00 (UK), 6:00 (NZST+1). Venue: Al-Rayyan Stadium.

In total, 855 matches will be played in 2022 World Cup qualifying, the very last of which is this one in Al Rayyan.

The newly-renovated Ahmad bin Ali Stadium will host seven matches at this year's tournament, but which one of these two nations will be there?

New Zealand are aiming to qualify for their third World Cup Finals, having previously appeared at Spain '82 and then South Africa 2010.

Despite winning all five matches in Oceanic qualifying, scoring 18 goals and conceding one, they must come through this play-off to qualify.

Since beating Bahrain in the 2010 inter-confederation play-offs, the All Whites have fallen at this stage twice, going down to Mexico and then Peru.

Costa Rica meanwhile are looking to appear at a fifth World Cup out of the last six, only missing South Africa since the turn of the millennium.

Luis Fernando Suárez's side come into June unbeaten in seven, winning six, form that saw them take the play-off spot in CONCACAF.

Los Ticos experienced heartbreak in these play-offs 13 years ago, going out 2-1 to Uruguay, but are favourites and confident this time.

Who will join Spain, Germany and Japan in World Cup Group E in November?

Germany vs England: UEFA Nations League

Date: 7 June. Kick off time: 14:45 (ET), 19:45 (UK), 20:45 (CEST). Venue: Allianz Arena.

Two old enemies meet again at an iconic setting.

England and Germany have clashed 33 times since first doing so in Berlin 92 years ago.

The Three Lions prevailed in the 1966 World Cup Final at Wembley, but haven't enjoyed much other success against their rivals.

Die Mannschaft were victorious in the World Cup 1970 quarter-finals, World Cup 1990 semis, Euro '96 semis and World Cup 2010 round of 16.

However, last summer, England ended this long barren period, knocking out Germany 2-0 during the Euros en route to the final.

This fixture will be their first clash on German soil since 2001 when England, amazingly, won a World Cup qualifier 5-1 at Olympiastadion.

Across the city at Fußball Arena München, they'll meet in the UEFA Nations League for the very first time.

With European champions Italy as well as Hungary in Group A3, every point counts as the three heavyweights fight it out for top spot.

Spain vs Portugal: UEFA Nations League

Date: 2 June. Kick off time: 14:45 (ET), 19:45 (UK), 20:45 (CEST). Venue: Estadio Benito Villamarín.

These two Iberian rivals are set to go head-to-had in Seville, hoping to serve up another classic.

Spain and Portugal last met in a competitive game four years ago on matchday one of the World Cup group stages.

It turned out to be a thrilling 3-3 draw in Sochi, in which Cristiano Ronaldo became the 47th man to score a World Cup hat-trick.

Since then, both have enjoyed memorable runs to the UEFA Nations League Finals.

A Seleção became the competition's maiden winners in 2019, before la Roja were beaten by France in last year's final.

This time round, with Switzerland and Czech Republic completing Group A2, they're likely to be fighting for top spot again.

The two meet on opening night in Seville before the return clash in Braga on the sixth and final matchday.

Italy vs Germany: UEFA Nations League

Date: 4 June. Kick off time: 14:45 (ET), 19:45 (UK), 20:45 (CEST). Venue: Stadio Renato Dall'Ara.

Italy and Germany have played out many memorable matches in the past, so let's hope for two more in Bologna and Mönchengladbach this June.

The pair met in the World Cup Final of 1982 and a semi-final in 2006 with the Italians prevailing on both occasions.

However, their most recent competitive clash was won by the Germany, a penalty shootout victory at the quarter-final stage of Euro 2016.

Roberto Mancini's team will kick off this international window with the Finalísima against Argentina, but attention will quickly turn to this competition.

Gli Azzurri hosted last October's UEFA Nations League Finals, but came unstuck at the semi-final stage, going out to Spain.

Die Mannschaft meanwhile have an underwhelming record in this competition, winning just two of ten outings to date.

They'll be looking to add to that in two meetings with the reigning European champions this month, the first of which is on the road.

Belgium vs Netherlands: UEFA Nations League

Date: 3 June. Kick off time: 14:45 (ET), 19:45 (UK), 20:45 (CEST). Venue: Stade Roi Baudouin.

Two European neighbours will go head-to-head for the 128th time in Brussels.

Belgium and the Netherlands first met in 1905, but haven't gone head-to-head in a competitive match since a series of matches in the last 1990s.

The two met in World Cup 1998 qualifying, Holland winning both games, before a goalless draw in Paris at the finals themselves.

On matchday one, the two will face-off at King Baudouin Stadium, commencing their latest UEFA Nations League campaigns.

Netherlands ended as runners-up in the inaugural season of this competition, with Belgium losing to France in last year's semi-finals.

Poland and Wales complete a very competitive looking Group A4.

All four of these nations have the added incentive of, whoever tops the section, will not only qualify for next year's finals but will host them too.

These two are the obvious front-runners in this regard, and their clash in Amsterdam in September is likely to be decisive.

France vs Croatia: UEFA Nations League

Date: 6 June. Kick off time: 14:45 (ET), 19:45 (UK), 20:45 (CEST). Venue: Gradski stadion u Poljudu.

A repeat of the last World Cup Final takes place in Split.

Four years ago at the Luzhniki in Moscow, France claimed their second world title, beating surprising finalists Croatia 4-2.

Since then, Didier Deschamps' side have added more silverware, lifting the UEFA Nations League trophy in Milan last October.

En route to those finals, Les Bleus faced Croatia in the league phase two years ago, winning 4-2 in Paris and then 2-1 in Zagreb.

This means France remain unbeaten in eight meetings with the Checkered Ones, winning six of them.

In this year's Nations League, the two will meet twice just seven days apart, first in Stadion Poljud before a clash at Stade de France a week later.

Denmark and Austria complete Group A1, meaning the reigning World Champions are big favourites to top the section.

Sweden vs Norway: UEFA Nations League

Date: 5 June. Kick off time: 14:45 (ET), 19:45 (UK), 20:45 (CEST). Venue: Friends Arena.

The only UEFA Nations League fixture to feature on this list from out-side the top division is this clash between two Nordic neighbours.

Norway and Sweden will actually do battle twice during this June window, first in Solna before the return clash in Oslo a week later.

The two find themselves in a very competitive, well-balanced Group B4 alongside Serbia and Slovenia.

All four the quartet could realistically gain promotion or be relegated, making each fixture very much important.

Norway and Sweden last met in Euro 2020 qualifying, playing out a pair of draws, 3-3 at Ullevål and then 1-1 at the Friends Arena.

Sweden managed to qualify for the tournament in second spot, ousting Norway by four points.

However, neither side will be at this year's World Cup in Qatar, so both are looking ahead to the next European Championships in 2024.

In the more immediate future, this window is the first chance for fans to see Erling Braut Håland since he was unveiled as a Manchester City player.

Both derbies promise to be hard-fought affairs played out in front of passionate crowds, epitomising what international football should be all about.

World Cup 2022 qualifying: Who will qualify for Qatar?

UEFA Nations League A: Group by group preview 

UEFA Nations League B: Group by group preview 

UEFA Nations League C: Group by group preview 

UEFA Nations League D: Group by group preview 

UEFA Nations League: All questions answered 

Ben Gray

Ben Gray

Arsenal fan – follow them over land and sea (and Leicester); sofa Celtic supporter; a bit of a football '"encyclopedia".

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