Chelsea stars on international duty

It is that time of year when league football comes to a brief standstill, as the international break takes it place. Here is a rundown of which Chelsea players are representing their country in the UEFA European Championship Qualifiers

England - Ross Barkley & Callum Hudson-Odoi

Gareth Southgate's side stands ready for their EURO 2020 bid with a 25-man squad brimming with youth and experience. One name who is well equipped in this England set-up is Ross Barkley, who featured in every game during the new Nations League tournament, in which they reached the semi-finals being held in June. 

After missing the recent World Cup in Russia, Barkley will aim to bounce back following a staggered second season at Chelsea, yet Southgate has shown full faith in the talented midfielder. His creativity and drive have often been missing from the Three Lions mid-drift. 

Callum Hudson-Odoi's inclusion has raised a few eyebrows, having yet to start a league match. Originally set to make Aidy Boothroyd's U21 squad, the 18-year-old switched to the seniors after doing enough in the club cup competitions to impress Southgate; in his eight starts, he has scored four and assisted a further four.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek also made the cut, however, injury caused him to drop out from the roster. 

Next Fixtures: 
Friday 22nd March- Czech Republic
Monday 25th March- Montenegro

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France - Olivier Giroud & N'Golo Kante

'Le Bleus' have revenge on their minds after narrowly losing the last European final to Portugal in 2016. Entering second in FIFA's international rankings, plus the small matter of 'World Champions' status, France will be fortified favourites this time around.

Both Olivier Giroud and N'Golo Kante were part of Didier Deschamps camp two years ago, the pair integral to last summers triumph. However, whilst Kante has continued to be an ever-present in Maurizio Sarri's team, Giroud has gritted his teeth, waiting for a solid spell in the starting lineup. Despite being top scorer in the Europa League this year, he has played second fiddle to Alvaro Morata and now Gonzalo Higuain; ironically he is Deschamps go-to man.

Next fixtures: 
Friday 22nd March - Moldova 
Monday 25th March - Iceland

Belgium - Eden Hazard

Belgium still boasts their 'golden generation' of superstars, however, this brilliant batch cannot last forever and if they fail to secure international silverware, it will go down as one of the greatest wastes in modern times. Potted in a pushover group, fully expect the boys from Brussels to give it another go.

Eden Hazard certainly hasn't been wasteful for the Blues, leading the way for goals and assists, as well as performances this season. He captained his country to third place at the World Cup, becoming their third highest capped player in the process. For Chelsea and Belgium to be without Hazard is like a Ferrari with a tractor engine. 

Next fixtures: 
Thursday 21st March- Russia
Sunday 24th March- Cyprus

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Spain - Kepa Arrizabalaga

After dominating the global football landscape year after year, Spain's sudden slump sent shock waves up and down the country. Luis Enrique has been installed to rejuvenate 'La Furia Roja', following their World Cup catastrophe and early exit. The former Barcelona boss has made a few big calls by cutting a few big names, replacing with those inform.

It is not often David De Gea's spot as number one goalkeeper is under threat, yet after a horror show in Russia, Kepa Arrizabalaga may well arrive for Spain between the sticks sooner rather than later. The most expensive 'keeper in history has demonstrated his talent during his first season at Chelsea, clearly a product for the future. Regardless, his ridiculous outburst during the Carabao Cup final has cast a shadow over Arrizabalaga, which has stained him ever since. 

Next fixtures: 
Saturday 23rd March- Norway
Tuesday 26th March- Norway

Germany - Antonio Rudiger

Much like Spain, the former World Cup winners went out in humiliating fashion during the group stages with redemption and reinvention the order for Joachim Loew. Publicly dismissing the old guard of Matts Hummels, Jerome Boateng and Thomas Muller from his squad, Lowe has taken a giant leap in a new direction for Germany.

The Bayern Munich centre-backs have now made way for the likes of Antonio Rudiger to relish a run in the national team. Rudiger has been a favourite of Sarri this term, appearing 40 times across all competitions, impressing in the majority. Other than the Netherlands, Rudiger and co should be eyeing up an easy European qualification.

Next fixtures:  
Sunday 24th March- Netherlands

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Italy - Jorginho

Perhaps the greatest fall from grace for the giants on the global stage is that of the Italian team. The Azzurri failed to qualify for the World Cup last summer, as former Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini looks to cement a cracked and broken side. Selecting only four players who have made over 30 appearances for Italy, a fresh lease of life is the Mancini mantra.

Surprisingly, Jorginho fits into this category, with only 13 caps to his name, despite several years playing at the highest club level. His brief spell in England has been heavily criticised, largely for his apparent inadequacies as Sarri's 'defensive midfielder'. Sarri brought the 27-year-old with him from Napoli and is stubborn enough in his tactics to continue to deploy Jorginho. He typically fits the mould of an Italian midfielder, which is why Mancini will revolve his team around the Chelsea man, much like the Blues boss. 

Next fixtures: 
Saturday 23rd March- Finland 
Tuesday 26th March- Liechtenstein

Croatia - Mateo Kovacic

Croatia, with a population of only 4.2 million, was the smallest nation at a World Cup final in 68 years. They did their country proud by putting up a brave fight against French before their fortress ultimately crumbled. Will lightning strike twice, or is this weathered Croatian squad past their sell-by date?

What is clear; their strength in midfield is undeniable. Alongside current Ballon d'Or holder Luka Modric and widely rated Ivan Rakitic, Mateo Kovacic completes a set of world-class footballers. Saying this, the loanee from Real Madrid is not always the first choice for Zlatko Dalić nor Sarri, often chopping and changing with Barkley at club level. His ability, evident; his consistency, lacking.

Next fixtures: 
Thursday 21st March- Azerbaijan
Sunday 24th March- Hungary

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Wales - Ethan Ampadu 

Ask any Welsh football fan what their country's greatest football achievement will be and you'll most likely hear, 'Euro 2016'. Defying every odds, The Dragons lit up the competition by making a semi-final for the first time in their history, knocked out by eventual victors Portugal. Now under new management of Ryan Giggs, Wales will want to emulate that fabled journey in next years competition; a sticky yet manageable group, featuring fellow teammate Kovacic's Croatia, stands in the way.

And what an opportunity for Ethan Ampadu to possibly announce himself on the international stage. Chelsea's hot young prodigy has had to bide his time whilst in London, yet his reeking the rewards for his restraint both for club and country. A dogged and determined character, Ampadu can play both in defence or midfield, a trait which Giggs will savour. 

Next fixtures: 
Sunday 24th March- Slovakia

Denmark - Andreas Christensen 

Denmark have fond memories of the European Championships, after lifting the trophy in 1992, with the likes of Peter Schmeichel and Brian Laudrup amongst their ranks. The fairy tale has faded ever since, only reaching the quarter-finals back in 2004.

Passing on the generation baton, Schmeichel Jnr (Kasper) has the 'keeper gloves, with Andreas Christensen in front of him in the Danish defence. Christensen has played second fiddle to Rudiger and David Luiz this season, a move away from Chelsea a strong possibility if he is not given more game time.

Next fixtures: 
Tuesday 26th March- Switzerland

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Chelsea Loanees

Michy Batshuayi (on loan at Crystal Palace)- Belgium
Alvaro Morata (on loan at Athletico Madrid)- Spain
Kurt Zouma (on loan at Everton)- France
Mario Pasalic (on loan at Atlanta)- Croatia