Team: England Under-21s
In beating Sweden 4-0 on Tuesday, Stuart Pearce's team registered a record seventh straight victory – all of which have come without conceding. The triumph in Walsall bettered England's previous best sequence set in 1991, when a certain Alan Shearer inspired Lawrie McMenemy and Ray Harford's charges to a six-match winning streak and success in the annual Toulon Tournament.
"It couldn't have been a better way to get our preparations under way," Pearce said of the midweek friendly, alluding to this summer's UEFA European Under-21 Championship finals in Israel. "It was beyond my expectations how well they gelled with each other."
Player: Mario Balotelli (AC Milan)
The erstwhile FC Internazionale Milano striker immediately endeared himself to his new supporters by scoring twice, including an added-time penalty, in the Rossoneri's 2-1 home victory against Udinese Calcio last Sunday.
The match represented the 22-year-old's first start since early December and the former Manchester City FC front man understandably felt the effects of his exertions after the Diavolo's third consecutive Serie A win.
"I'm happy it turned out like that as I put in a good performance," said Balotelli. "We are strong in attack, even if I haven't played much and feel my legs are heavy. I must work to improve my fitness levels."
Goal: Alessandro Matri (Juventus)
The 28-year-old Italy forward sumptuously claimed his fourth goal in as many Serie A games, setting the Bianconeri on course for a 2-1 victory at AC Chievo Verona last weekend with a blistering tenth-minute volley. Peeling into space off the shoulder of defender Marco Andreolli, Matri watched the ball sail over his marker before dispatching a sweetly struck left-foot shot across goal and into the far corner.
The number of caps that Darijo Srna, Josip Šimunić, Stipe Pletikosa (Croatia), Ashley Cole (England) and Carles Puyol (Spain) possess after Wednesday's bout of international friendlies. Srna celebrated reaching the century milestone in style, scoring the second goal in Croatia's 4-0 friendly defeat of South Korea in London.
"Whatever romancing they need to do, they must get it sorted out early on Thursday as Friday will be a tough opening session and they need to be right for that."
Derry City FC manager Declan Devine delivers a message to his players after learning that the Irish Premier Division team's pre-season training camp in Monaghan, intended to start on 14 February, needs to begin a day late due to local hotels being fully booked by romantic couples.
David Beckham's decision to join Paris Saint-Germain FC had the football world buzzing, but, as Le Parisien reported this week, the French capital was already home to a Becam – Alain Becam. The 32-year-old, who plays for Union Sportive d'Ivry, an 11th-tier club from the city's suburbs, received jovial texts from friends when the former England captain signed for the Ligue 1 leaders.
Apart from the sound of their names, and to some extent their ability from dead-ball situations, they share another thing in common: they play for free. Alain, who has ordered a Beckham No32 shirt for his daughter, is hoping to meet Paris's latest A-list arrival. "Even if I don't speak English very well, I'd like to tell him that my name is Becam, the French version."
Coincidence: Peter Hartley & James Poole (Hartlepool United FC)
Best known for electing as mayor a man who ran for office dressed in a monkey costume – vowing to give free bananas to children – Hartlepool hit the headlines last weekend when Peter Hartley and James Poole scored for the English coastal town's football team in a third-division fixture against Notts County FC.
Hartlepool-born Hartley sealed the north-east club's second home league win of the campaign with a 70th-minute header at Victoria Park, after Poole had put the hosts ahead early on.
"We've had it since I first signed for the club and I thought things had died down a bit but now this has really taken off – it's good fun and all good for the club," said Poole, 22, a former Manchester City FC trainee. If only they had struck the other way around, then it really would have been a case of Hartley-Poole. Better luck next time.
Night to remember: Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
Cedomir Janevski's side belied the gap of 57 FIFA World Ranking places between themselves and Denmark as they posted an eye-catching 3-0 victory in Skopje. Captain Goran Pandev, Agim Ibraimi and Nikolce Noveski put the outcome of the friendly beyond doubt with goals in the opening 25 minutes, prompting headlines in the sporting press the next day of "A night to remember" and "Rhapsody in yellow".
The challenge now facing Janevski is twofold: keeping his players' feet on the ground and transferring such form into FIFA World Cup qualifying Group A, where fourth-placed FYROM face leaders Belgium in a double-header next month.
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