While the term ‘friendly game' may sound like a bit of an oxymoron in a football world that is based on two teams competing against each other in front of a crowd of zealots, international friendlies often serve as practice matches whose result has no impact on other tournaments and competitions.
In this article, we will go through all things related to international friendlies and highlight some important points to keep in mind when betting on them.
- International Friendlies Explained
- Best Betting Sites for Betting on International Friendlies
- Recent International Friendly Matches – Results & Review
- Upcoming International Friendlies Fixtures 2022
- International Football Competitions
- International Fixtures and FIFA Rankings
- ThePuntersPage Final Say
International Friendlies Explained
What Are International Friendlies?
International friendly matches are basically exhibition matches played between teams from different countries and whose result has no effect on other competitions. These matches come around a few times a year, depending on what the rest of calendar holds for clubs and nations alike. They are normally held before the start of an international tournament such as the World Cup.
International friendlies offer the opportunity for national team coaches to bring a squad together and focus on teamwork and tactics,so that the players are prepared for the matches in which they're called upon to represent their respective countries.
More often than not, since the outcome of the match is not important, friendlies are used by managers to try out experimental formations.
Check out the most popular betting markets so that you can tailor your bets depending on the changes in the starting lineups which you can see.
Where to Watch International Friendlies
Normally, international friendlies are shown by selected TV stations in the countries competing, as well as on other entertainment providers such as ESPN. You could also follow them on FIFA's channel on YouTube TV.
- Some of the best football betting sites will allow you to stream the matches via their live streaming service.
How International Friendly Fixtures Are Decided
There are particular time frames during the year in which international friendlies are allowed to take place. This is due to the requirements from domestic club leagues, such as the Premier League, Serie A and La Liga, as well as continental club cups such as the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League. Apart from this, there are other commitments such as World Cup qualifiers and international tournament schedules from UEFA, CONMEBOL and more.
The dates agreed upon for 2022 are the following:
|Max Number of Match Dates
|9th January – 6th February
|CAF African Cup of Nations
|24th January – 1st February
|AFC, CONMEBOL & OFC
|24th January – 2nd February
|21st – 29th March
|AFC, CAF, CONMEBOL, OFC & UEFA)
|21st – 30th March
|30th May – 14th June
|19th – 27th September
|14th November/18th December
|FIFA World Cup 2022
- Official matches allow players to be released from their clubs 4 days prior to the international match so that they may join the rest of the national team in training sessions. If the matches are friendlies, they are deemed as less important, so the required release time is 48 hours before the game.
Best Betting Sites for Betting on International Friendlies
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Recent International Friendly Matches – Results & Review
The last couple of friendlies against Switzerland and Ivory Coast were a great opportunity for Gareth Southgate to try out some different formations and players. In fact, we saw debuts from Crystal Palace's Conor Gallagher, Tyrick Mitchell and Marc Guehi, as well as Kyle Walker-Peters. For a short period against Switzerland, we also saw the likes of Phil Foden, Jack Grealish and Raheem Sterling all on the pitch at the same time, which is something Gareth Southgate has only done on a handful of other occasions.
Against Ivory Coast, Ollie Watkins bagged himself his second England goal while Raheem Sterling delivered a great performance and sealed it with a goal and an assist. Ivory Coast went down to 10 men before the first half after Serge Aurier was sent off – from then on, England could have scored on a number of occasions, but it was eventually centre-back Tyrone Mings who scored the third with a powering header in the final minute.
As Scotland wait to take on Ukraine in their World Cup Playoff match (which will take place on the 1st June 2022), they played friendlies against Poland and Austria which were two sides that also made it to the World Cup playoffs. The signs for Steve Clarke's men are promising since they managed to score first in both matches. They then went on to conceded goals after some second half changes which goes to show that their starting 11 is strong enough to give them an advantage in a game however Steve Clarke has to make sure his changes do not unbalance the team's performance.
The team led with a 3-4-2-1 formation and then had the midfield 4 being changed out throughout the match on both occasions. Scotland have not participated in a World Cup since 1998 but are now 2 matches away from potentially winning a last European ticket to Qatar.
Upcoming International Friendlies Fixtures 2022
April – June
This period will most probably be quite quiet as most club-level leagues and cups come to an end towards the last week of May, and the UEFA Nations League matches (explained further down) in early June 2022. Having said that, there is one huge match we're certain will take place and which we are really looking forward to. That is the match on 1st June between Italy and Argentina. We've listed as a friendly for time being until more details about the match are shared.
|El Salvador vs Guatemala
|El Salvador vs Argentina
|Guatemala vs Mexico
|El Salvador vs Panama
|Italy vs Argentina
|Norway vs New Zealand
- The exhibition match between Italy (Euro Cup winner) and Argentina (Copa America winner) will be played in London, after UEFA and CONMEBOL decided the match will serve as a sort of Intercontinental Super Cup. It is still unclear whether an actual trophy will be presented on the day.
- The match is the first of its type and came about after FIFA's plans for a biennal World Cup were communicated. Both UEFA and CONMEBOL were against the idea, and this particular match is part of a plan for increased cooperation between the two governing bodies.
July – September
More details about matches happening in this period will follow. We can expect a few international friendlies to take place during this period as teams prepare for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
October – December
More details to follow here too. We also expect a number of international friendlies to be played, especially towards early November, before the FIFA World Cup starts on 21st November 2022. The tournament will go on until 18th December 2022.
International Football Competitions
The lack of time available for international friendlies is partially due to the fact that national teams are already involved in various tournaments which are organised by FIFA or their continents' governing bodies – UEFA (Europe), AFC (Asia), CONMEBOL (South America), CONCACAF (North America), CAF (Africa) and OFC (Oceania).
Here's a rundown of the most important tournaments to keep an eye out for.
FIFA World Cup & FIFA World Cup Qualifiers
The FIFA World Cup is currently being organised every 4 years with the next one taking place in Qatar in 2022. The 32 participating teams must go through a qualification process that involves playing against teams from its own continent, with the exception of 1 country – the host nation, Qatar, which qualifies automatically. This will be Qatar's first World Cup participation.
Each continent has its own qualification process and the amount of places available is split as follows:
- CAF – 5 places
- AFC – 4 places + 1 playoff qualifier
- UEFA – 13 places
- CONCAFAF – 3 places + 1 playoff qualifier
- OFC – 1 playoff qualifier
- CONMEBOL – 4 places + 1 playoff qualifier
2 playoff qualifiers will be played (Asia vs. South America, and North America vs. Oceania) to determine the final 2 qualifying teams.
The following World Cup will take place in 16 cities across Canada, Mexico and USA in 2026 and will consist of 48 teams. The qualification process normally starts around 2 years beforehand.
Check out our FIFA World Cup betting guide.
International Tournaments – Euro Cup
The UEFA Euro Cup is organised every 4 years, with the last one being won by Italy in 2021 (after it was postponed from 2020). Similar to their participation in the World Cup, participating nations will be split into 10 groups of 5 or 6 teams, and each team will play against the others in a home and away round robin format.
The following qualifying matches will be played during specific 3-day periods in March, June, September, October and November 2023. The final playoffs to determine the full list of 24 teams will take place in March 2024. The hosts for the Euro 2024 will be Germany, so they will qualify automatically.
Check out our TPP Euro 2024 betting guide.
International Tournaments – UEFA Nations League
In order to cut down on organised international friendlies, UEFA decided to start a new competition, the Nations League, which will eventually determine a few places in the Euro Cup. It also helps give some structure to the international fixtures calendar. However, some have argued that this new tournament has increased the number of matches being played, and will actually hinder the pre-season training or player holiday period.
Matches for the 2022/23 league will take place right after the 2021/22 domestic season is over. 4 match days are scheduled between the 2nd and 14th June. The last two match days for the league – which consists of a group stage with groups of a maximum of 4 teams – will be played between the 22nd and 27th September 2022.
The final stage of the tournament will then take place between the 14th and 18th June 2023.
For more info check out our Nations League betting guide.
International Tournament – Others
Other important international tournaments to follow are:
- Copa America – held once every four years, with the next one scheduled for June/July 2024
- African Cup of Nations – held once every two years, with the next one scheduled for January/February 2022
- AFC Asian Cup – held once every four years, with the next one scheduled for June/July 2023
- CONCACAF Gold Cup – held once every two years, with the next one scheduled for June/July 2023
International Fixtures and FIFA Rankings
The FIFA World Rankings is an important list which ranks all countries by a system of points that can be won every time a national team plays a FIFA-recognised match.
How Are Points Given for FIFA Rankings?
The complex points system gives different weight to matches being played depending on the importance and outcome of the game. It also takes the expected result into consideration.
The different coefficients of match importance are based on the following levels:
- Level 1 – Friendlies played outside the international match calendar windows
- Level 2 – Friendlies played within the international match calendar windows
- Level 3 – Nations League group stage matches
- Level 4 – Nations League playoffs and finals, Confederations' final competitions qualifiers (such as Euro Cup qualifiers), FIFA World Cup qualifiers
- Level 5 – Confederations' final competitions matches – before quarter finals (such as Copa America, AFC Cup, Euro Cup etc.)
- Level 6 – Confederations' final competitions matches – quarter finals and later
- Level 7 – FIFA World Cup matches – before quarter finals
- Level 8 – FIFA World Cup matches – quarter finals and later
The system also considers the way a match was won or lost (by penalties or not). In fact, a loss after a penalty shootout is considered to be equivalent to a draw in normal time.
Top 10 Ranked Countries as of End of 2021
|End of 2020
|Points end of 2021
|1st with 1780
|3rd with 1743
|2nd with 1755
|4th with 1670
|7th with 1642
|10th with 1625
|6th with 1645
|5th with 1662
|12th with 1614
|14th with 1609
International Friendlies FAQS
This isn't one fixed answer which applies to every year or every country. The frequency of fixtures depends on a number of variables which change from one year to another depending on other competitions.
It is an exhibition match played between the national teams of two different countries and whose result does not affect any other international competition.
If the match falls between the specified time window for international matches, then a club must allow the player to represent his country. The club is not obliged to release a player for more than one international tournament in a calendar year.
Most certainly. However, we suggest paying attention to the starting lineups beforehand since most coaches choose experimental lineups for friendlies, and this could change the way you predict the match outcome.
Yes, they do. Some friendlies might be worth more than others. Only friendlies which are not recognised by FIFA have no effect on the FIFA rankings.
ThePuntersPage Final Say
Betting on international friendly games can be one of the most exciting types of bets, as not only do players get an extra boost when representing their country, but friendlies are often seen as testing grounds to try out new players and an opportunity to experiment with various tactics.