Despite a flurry of ‘bore draws’, the international break proved to be anything but boring. Moments of revelation dawned, heroes were born and heartbreak was forged. Aston Villa’s international contingent proved to be a microcosm of a wider international footballing scene, with plenty of joy and despair to go around. What were the big stories as Steve Bruce and Aston Villa took a break from league football? Let’s take a look at what went on across the world for Villa’s stars in this international break.
England fans can rejoice, but the rest of the domestic scene is almost in absolute disarray. Villa’s huge Irish group - including Scott Hogan, Glenn Whelan and Conor Hourihane where blasted into orbit by a clinical Danish side. Former Villa men Roy Keane and Martin O’Neill watched their Eire team take the lead in a make-or-break second leg at home in Dublin, before being torn apart by a rampant Cristian Eriksen. After breaking Welsh hearts (yes, Neil Taylor and James Chester won’t be off to the WC in Russia either), the Republic of Ireland crashed out at the final hurdle in devastating fashion.
Northern Ireland couldn’t break down a Switzerland side that had a large amount of ‘help’ in getting through, thanks to the referee! Villa graduate Steven Davis and Villa old boy Aaron Hughes fought hard, but it wasn’t enough - slipping out on a single goal. Out of all the domestic teams, Northern Ireland can hold their head up eye. That’s not to say that RoI and Wales haven’t improved, but NI have a struggle to qualify in ways that the other teams don’t.
Scotland won’t be heading to the World Cup either, so there goes that. It’s just England heading forth.
Aus Wars: The Last Jedi
Aston Villa played a starring role in a crucial match of this World Cup Qualifying campaign, with one magic man dragging his country to Russia.
Mile Jedinak proved to be the hero on the day, helping Australia smash Honduras by three goals to one. What’s more, magic Mile bagged all the goals for his side, with a stunning hat-trick. What a man.
Jonathan Kodjia and Albert Adomah won’t be heading to the World Cup either. Ghana and the Ivory Coast failed to make any impact in their qualification campaigns and succumbed to stronger, and hungrier, teams.
However, there is one bright spot for Villa in Africa. Midfield maestro of the 2000’s, Mustapha Hadjia, helped guide his Morocco team to Russia from a spot on the sidelines.
With so many massive teams missing out on the World Cup, it could be more exciting than ever - especially for a neutral. Aston Villa will have a presence through Australia, but you might find the odd familiar face like Hadji or Benteke floating about - just in case you’re lost without a team to follow!