A Peruvian veteran is making a big play for an unlikely call-up in Russia while French star Antoine Griezmann is putting uncertainty over his club future aside to continue his exceptional form ahead of the FIFA World Cup.
Elsewhere a Danish attacker snapped a long goal drought to boost his hopes of a dream move to the English Premier League.
There’s all that and more in this week’s Opponent Watch.
Peru boss Ricardo Gareca has kept the door open for 39-year-old striker Claudio Pizarro to be included in his World Cup squad despite the veteran attacker not playing for the national team in almost two years.
Pizarro, who has scored 20 times in 85 appearances for Peru, is still scoring goals in the Bundesliga, and recently became the competition’s fourth-oldest scorer when he found the net for Cologne against Vfb Stuttgart.
Incredibly, Pizarro has scored in the Bundesliga every calendar year since his debut in 1999.
If the 39-year-old were to play against Australia or France at the FIFA World Cup, he would become the competition's 10th oldest player. If he only features against Denmark, he would become the tournament's 12th oldest player.
Playing in Russia would see Pizarro cement a spot above Tim Cahill on the oldest players list, who could become the FIFA World Cup's 16th oldest player if he plays against France. Cahill will be 38 years, six months and 10 days old when Australia take on France, which would put him just behind Portugal’s Damas (38 years, eight months and three days).
Still on the South Americans and they are on track to be one of the best-supported nations in Russia after nation-by-nation ticket allocations were revealed this week.
Of more than 1.3million tickets to have been allocated so far, Peru passport holders have secured the eighth most of any nation, just ahead of Australia (ninth), with France (16th most) and Denmark (34th).
Outlining Griezmann’s rich vein of form, the Atletico Madrid star was presented with La Liga’s Player of the Month award for February prior to the weekend’s clash with Celta Vigo.
The 26-year-old was a standout winner with eight goals and two assists during the month.
And he celebrated the award with another goal and assist in Atletico’s 3-0 win over Celta.
All this despite rumours this week a move to Barcelona in the European summer is a “done deal”, with his wife reportedly already looking for a house in the city.
While Griezmann’s rich vein of form is sure to be helping Didier Deschamps sleep easy at night, an injury to another in-form star is a concern.
Marseille winger Florian Thauvin was stretchered off in the Europa League last Friday (AEDT) and while he has avoided a serious injury, the 25-year-old appears set for a stint on the sidelines.
The ex-Newcastle United playmaker has been one of the stars in Ligue 1 this season, scoring 16 goals and providing 13 assists for his side, boosting his hopes of breaking into France’s star-studded squad.
Striker Nicolai Jorgensen ended a 10-game goal drought for Feyenoord at the weekend with what turned out to be the winner in their 2-1 triumph over AZ Alkmaar.
The 27-year-old is a striker in demand with EPL sides Newcastle United and Southampton both attempting to sign him during the recent January transfer window.
After his 21 goals last season saw him not only claim the Eredivisie golden boot but also helped Feyenoord to the title, Jorgensen has been less prolific in 2017/18.
But he’ll be hoping to resume banging in the goals to ensure he’s in peak form heading to Russia.
Meanwhile, young defender Andreas Christensen’s patchy form for Chelsea could see him dropped to the bench for Thursday’s (AEDT) UEFA Champions League clash with Barcelona.
The 21-year-old was at fault for Barca’s equaliser in the 1-1 draw in the first leg at Stamford Bridge while he produced another shaky display in the EPL win over Crystal Palace on the weekend.
There have been calls for Antonio Conte to drop Christensen to the bench in favour of Brazilian star David Luiz.
‘Chelsea are all over the place at the moment. They can be brilliant one minute and shocking the next,’ pundit Garth Crooks told BBC Sport.
‘The not so brilliant has been Andreas Christensen, who is clearly a talented defender but not in David Luiz’s class yet. Conte needs to heal that rift with Luiz.’
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