International Friendlies 2012: England, Brazil, Germany Face Tough Matches

Neymar of Brazil looks on during the International friendly match between Brazil and Ghana at Craven Cottage in London, England. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

There are dozens of international matches during the international break, but we'll be focusing on seven of them. Brazil vs. Bosnia-Herzegovina kicks off the big friendlies on Tuesday.

Much to the displeasure of just about every club side on earth, FIFA has an international break at the end of February/beginning of March. In between two league fixtures, in most cases, players will travel to play for their national teams in friendlies that serve little purpose but to make money for national soccer federations. But hey, when Neymar puts on a Brazil shirt or Jozy Altidore puts on a USA shirt, everyone becomes infinitely more interested in them. We might as well watch them and talk about it.

Here are the biggest friendly matches going on during the break.

Brazil vs. Bosnia-Herzegovina

Tuesday, 2:00 p.m. ET, 8:00 p.m. CET

Venue: AFG Arena, St. Gallen, Switzerland

To avoid making their European-based stars travel, the Brazilian national team is playing lots of friendlies in Europe and having their European-based players stay home for friendlies on the other side of the Atlantic. This match is in Switzerland and features a mix of first and second-choice players for Mano Menezes. Expect to see a lot of Brazilian-based stars Neymar, Ganso and Leandro Damiao, as well as Valencia's Jonas, Chelsea's David Luiz and Shakhtar's Fernandinho.

Bosnia has a full-strength side for the most part, though Senad Lulic is out injured. Vedad Ibesevic and Edin Dzeko are available and should give some trouble to Luiz, Thiago Silva and co.

Switzerland vs. Argentina

Wednesday, 2:30 p.m. ET, 8:30 p.m. CET

Venue: Stade de Suisse Wankdorf, Bern, Switzerland

Switzerland has one of the best stables of young talent in the world, but they'll be facing a seriously difficult test when they come up against Lionel Messi and Argentina. The Albiceleste have been extremely inconsistent for what seems like five years now, but their front line should have the talent to score on Switzerland's back line.

Elsewhere on the pitch, Argentina don't have any mismatches. Their center of midfield will have their hands full with Gökhan Inler, Granit Xhaka and the rest of the Swiss center. The most interesting matchup to watch will probably be on Switzerland's right and Argentina's left, where young stars Xherdan Shaqiri and Marcos Rojo will be locked up for the majority of the match.

Germany vs. France

Wednesday, 2:45 p.m. ET, 8:45 p.m. CET

Venue: Weserstadion, Bremen, Germany

Germany and France are both fielding strong teams, but a number of players are out injured, while both coaches have chosen to rest or drop some of their most experienced players. For various reasons, all of Phillip Lahm, Per Mertesacker, Mario Götze, Sven Bender, Lukas Podolski and Bastian Schweinsteiger are out for Germany. Laurent Blanc has not called in injured or recently injured players Bacary Sagna, Loic Remy and Karim Benzema.

Joachim Löw knows that Manuel Neuer is his No. 1 keeper, so he's giving Tim Wiese a chance to earn a trip to Euro 2012 with a start in front of his home fans. There will also be eyes on young André Schürrle; he will need a spectacular set of performances in this and other friendlies to earn his way onto the Euro squad, due to the form of Marco Reus. The biggest story for France is that Marseille winger Morgan Amalfitano will be handed his debut.

Italy vs. United States

Wednesday, 2:45 p.m. ET, 8:45 p.m. CET

Venue: Stadio Luigi Ferraris, Genoa, Italy

Injury and illness have already claimed some of the best players on both teams, so this will present a great opportunity for some fringe players to try to win spots for competitive matches. Antonio Cassano and Giuseppe Rossi both have serious medical issues and might struggle to make the Euros. Timmy Chandler, Landon Donovan, Jermaine Jones, Oguchi Onyewu, Omar Gonzalez, Jose Torres and Stuart Holden were among the names that were not available for Jurgen Klinsmann to take to Genoa.

You can find a full Italy vs. USA preview here.

England vs. Netherlands

Wednesday, 3:00 p.m. ET, 8:00 p.m. GMT

Venue: Wembley Stadium, London, England

England are a team without a manager, and their caretaker manager is without healthy and in-form players. Wayne Rooney, Steven Gerrard and Ashley Cole are all in the team, but John Terry, Rio Ferdinand and Frank Lampard are not. Fraizer Campbell, Daniel Sturridge, Danny Welbeck and Adam Johnson will be auditioning for the next England manager, and it seems likely that there will only be places for two of those four players on the Euro 2012 roster. Chris Smalling and Phil Jones might also be fighting for one place.

Seeing as Robin van Persie makes these players look bad on a regular basis while wearing a red shirt, there's plenty of reason to believe that he will do the same while wearing an Orange shirt.

Spain vs. Venezuela

Wednesday, 3:30 p.m. ET, 9:30 p.m. CET

Venue: La Rosaleda, Malaga, Spain

Why the best team in the world felt the need to schedule Venezuela, we'll never know. Venezuela are no longer the minnows of South America and have an outside shot of qualifying for the next World Cup, but it would be surprising to see Spain get challenged. Vicente Del Bosque is likely to see this as a good way to get playing time for his young players and fringe players. Roberto Soldado, Jordi Alba, Javi Martinez, Iker Muniain and Thiago Alcantara are likely to get an opportunity to play and try to win a spot in the Euro squad.

Mexico vs. Colombia

Wednesday, 7:30 p.m. ET

Venue: Sun Life Stadium, Miami, Florida

*BEEP, BEEP, BEEP*. That's the sound of Soccer United Marketing backing up their money truck to Sun Life Stadium. A lot of Colombia's best players are sitting out for a variety of reasons, but they're still bringing the likes of Radamel Falcao and James Rodriguez to Miami. Whether it's because he realized his favoritism was getting him nowhere or because someone at the FMF yelled at him, 'Chepo' Jose Manuel de la Torre has dropped some of his old favorites from his Toluca days. Alfredo Talavera, Edgar Dueñas and 35-year-old Sinha have finally been dropped.

Naturalized Argentinian left winger Damián Álvarez could get his first cap, along with in-form Monarcas Morelia stars Edgar Lugo and Enrique Perez.

A full list of international fixtures can be found at FIFA.com.

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