Casadei shines while England impress: International Roundup #1

The academy season is over, Chelsea’s season has practically been over for 6 months, but that doesn’t mean the players are done! I’ve just finished my first year of university, so what a fun way to celebrate by watching every single international match in which a Chelsea player has played in.

The U-17 Euros started a couple days ago, as well as the U-20 World Cup, and so I thought after each gameweek, I’d give my opinion on how the Chelsea players have done. This’ll be a series over the next month or two, including the upcoming U-21 Euros, so here’s the first episode:

England U17s 1-0 Croatia U17s

Michael Golding (midfielder), Somto Boniface (Left-Back) and Josh Acheampong (Right-Back) all started for England in a satisfactory victory against Croatia. All three have impressed when I’ve seen them play live in action before, and they turned up once again.

Josh picked up some excellent positions centrally, and used the underlap to great effect. His ability to use both feet with ease goes under the radar, and it creates a lot of angles on the pitch – similar to what Levi Colwill has been praised for. Acheampong showed great confidence on the ball driving forward and it’s great to see.

I’ve seen Somto play around 135 minutes in-person before, and over the course of those minutes he’s probably been the best player on the pitch, so his positive shift for England came at no surprise. There’s not much to say other than he had a very balanced and controlled performance – very Ian Maatsen esque, in fact.

Golding was almost playing as a wide 10, and you could see why. He has a ridiculously good first touch, especially on the half-turn. He missed a penalty, which is a shame, but you could tell straight away he’s a very intelligent midfielder and that he’s captained this side previously.

Ecuador U20s 0-1 USA U20s

Gaga Slonina started in net for the Americans and captained the side, as he came up against the set-to-be-announced new Chelsea signing Kendry Paez. Kendry has just turned 16 years old, so for him to be starting at the U20 World Cup is quite ridiculous. A lot has been made of him on social media, and it was the first time I was watching him, so I was really looking forward to this one.

The first thing I noticed about Kendry’s game was his pressing. I really liked his intent, and although it wasn’t perfect at all times, the intention being there is great to see at such a young age. He also has this trait which Conor Gallagher does well, which is where he’ll give a little nudge or shove to the player he’s pressed after they’ve released the ball, but it’s never enough for the referee to call a foul. If anyone’s ever played football, this can be one of the most annoying things to come up against and so I see that as a massive positive.

He played in this inside 8 role, and showed some really nice quality on the ball early on. There was some great ball control seen including a skill move on the edge of the box which was so close to working out, and also some nice switches of play. A bit of inexperience was shown as the game went on, with him trying a bit too much and the final ball just not working, but that game suggested to me that the end product will come in the next few games.

Slonina barely had anything to do, to be honest. His distribution was a bit average, but he kept a clean sheet and that’s all that matters for a Goalkeeper. A good start for him and his team.

England U17s 4-1 Netherland U17s

In the last game against Croatia, England had completely lost control in the final 10 minutes and were pretty lucky not to concede. So, to wrap up the game the way they did and send themselves to the Quarter-Finals was a relief. Acheampong and Golding started for the 17s.

Michael had a much deeper role in this game, and looked really strong defensively. It’s good to see that side of the game from him.

Josh had another good game from Right-Back. One thing I’ve noticed which he does quite well is when defending a 1v1 against a winger running at him, he keeps on retreating and as soon as his midfielder has tracked back to help him, he forces the opposition player inside who normally gets tackled. Reece James did it quite a lot when he had N’Golo Kante next to him, and it works.

I also thought I’d take this opportunity to mention how good former Blue Myles Lewis-Skelly was. An extremely dominant midfield performance, and he’s the one who’s stood out so far. Most probably came into the tournament keeping an eye on Ethan Nwaneri or Tyler Dibling, but I think both have struggled massively and it’s been the Arsenal midfielder who has excited me more.

Brazil U20s 2-3 Italy U20s

I can’t lie – I was going to watch this game, but fell asleep and can’t really be too bothered to catch up on it since I’ve seen enough of the content on Twitter.

Cesare Casadei picked up two goals and an assist, including a penalty which he won himself after some great work in the box. His physical dominance was on full display and his arrival in the box, especially aerially, has always been very effective.

By the sounds of things, Andrey Santos struggled a lot more in a very weak Brazilian midfield and got ‘dunked on’ by the Italian midfielder. Hopefully, his game improves as the tournament goes on. Some people were saying it still looked like he didn’t know what was his best position and role in midfield, sometimes arriving in the box and sometimes being the deepest midfielder. Perhaps something to look at.

England U20s 1-0 Tunisia U20s

It looks like Harvey Vale is going to captain the side once again, which is great news. He was also joined in the starting lineup by Bashir Humphreys, while Teddy Sharman-Lowe and former Blue Xavier Simons on the bench.

Harvey was playing at Left Wing-Back, a role which he’s pretty much always had in the England setup. He had an excellent game. He had some really nice early crosses and set piece deliveries, and one included a perfect assist for the only goal of the game. He defended brilliantly too, pressing the Tunisian attacker and winning his duels. Arguably Man of the Match.

Bashir was really solid too. It had been a while since I had watched him play after he went out on loan to the German side Padeborn, but he reminded everyone of what he’s capable of. He picked up an injury in the second half which he continued to play through for a while, but the pain became too much and he had to be substituted off – hopefully it’s not too serious.

I hope you enjoyed the first episode of this mini series! We’re also recording a podcast episode tomorrow afternoon with Scott Trotter, discussing the Chelsea boys on international duty, what I’ve heard about Tudor Mendel-Idowu and so much more!

On a separate personal note, one of my childhood best mates wrote about my story in media and how a lockdown hobby turned into a successfull passion. Give it a read if you’d be interested – it’s something different for me, but something very cool.

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