The September international break is normally relatively relaxed — a chance to tweak tactics and focus on formations.
Not this time. For almost all 32 competing nations, this is the final set of international fixtures before the World Cup begins in Qatar on November 20.
So that you can go into the break feeling prepared, The Athletic has identified one issue every team need to try to fix this break…
Biggest issue: finding form
This window provides the litmus test for Qatar’s training camp. Akin to South Korea when they co-hosted the finals in 2002, the national team pulled its players from their Qatari Stars League clubs for a six-month training camp. This means none have played any competitive football since March, instead playing 12 friendlies.
The camp started in Marbella in June, losing 1-0 to Northern Irish side Linfield, then moved to Austria, most recently beaten 3-0 by Croatia’s under-23s.
Fixtures: Canada (September 23) and Chile (September 27).*All dates based on GMT
Biggest issue: fallout from Byron Castillo scandal
When FIFA dismissed