The September international break regularly warrants complaints even if it produces great games. With the European calendar starting to hit its stride come September, this puts a wrench in what has happened in the first month of the season. However, international windows regularly provide a different kind of flair.

This month, qualification officially opens for the 2026 World Cup. Even better, it featured the defending champions, Argentina. South America’s governing body CONMEBOL is the first to start World Cup qualifying. While qualifying in Asia starts in October, other confederations do not start until 2024 or 2025. Even these early games in World Cup qualifying are important for South America. Coverage of many of the CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying games is available via Fanatiz.

Elsewhere, qualification for Euro 2024 takes precedence. The schedule is still somewhat awry because of the UEFA Nations League Finals. However, these games are matchdays five and six in Euro Qualifying. Therefore, this is the halfway point for most teams in the qualifying stage.

The other games and friendlies set up an exciting week of international contests. Here are five games during the September international window that stand out among the rest.

Key games in the September international window

France vs. Republic of Ireland – Thursday, Sep. 7, 2:45PM ET – FS2 & FUBO

Euro 2024 qualifying is the main attraction in European soccer over the next week. This slate of games over the next week is the halfway point in qualifying for all the teams in UEFA. However, France and Ireland are two nations that fully expect to be competing in Germany in the summer of 2024.

The Republic of Ireland is well behind the pace with a win and two losses after three games. Meanwhile, France is racing away with a perfect four wins from four. The Republic of Ireland faces an uphill battle away at France. France pulled no stops in its squad for the games in the September international window.

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Argentina vs. Ecuador – Thursday, Sep. 7, 8PM ET – TBD

Lionel Messi is part of the squad that opens up Argentina’s World Cup defense. La Albiceleste takes on another team from the 2022 World Cup, Ecuador. Ecuador was minutes away from reaching the knockout stage in Qatar. Two Senegal goals in the final group-stage game ended that hope.

This game, though, is Argentina’s first competitive game as a three-time World Cup champion. The party will be on, and the expectations are high for more success, even if Messi is not a guarantee to play in the World Cup in the United States, Canada and Mexico.

Argentina vs Ecuador TV details not available as of press time

Ukraine vs. England – Saturday, Sep. 9, NOON ET – FS2 & FUBO

Ukraine is playing its home games in Poland as the conflict against Russia continues back home. Even though Ukraine has strong support from fans, those fans will face a tough task against England. Gareth Southgate named a traditionally strong squad that includes Jude Bellingham, Harry Kane, Declan Rice and more.

England is a confident bet to get into the European Championships. Ukraine needs some good fortune and results to get into the tournament proper.

Germany vs. Japan – Saturday, Sep. 9, 2:45PM ET – FS2 & FUBO

This is a rematch of one of the most shocking results of the World Cup in Qatar. Japan’s two quick goals in the second half stunned the Germans. That loss in the Germans’ first game at the World Cup set up the side for failure. It crashed out in the group stage for the second straight season.

Although this is just a friendly, it is a tune-up for Germany. It is hosting Euro 2024 and thus does not play in any qualifiers. Germany needs these competitive games to offset the disappointment of the three recent major tournaments.

Chile vs. Colombia – Tuesday, Sep. 12, 8:30PM ET – PPV & FANATIZ

One of the most shocking things about the 2022 World Cup was the omission of both Chile and Colombia. Two high-powered teams with elite talent put forth dismal qualifying campaigns. Failure to qualify for the expanded World Cup in 2026 would be even more of a disaster.

An early game between the two is pivotal. Even if more teams qualify out of South America, it is always a battle to get into the World Cup. This game is available on Fanatiz as one of the seven games on the provider.

PHOTO: IMAGO / Photogamma