Now that the often-interminable international break – with teams at half-mast and ludicrous wholesale changes at 45 minutes – is behind us, we can sit back and try to work out what it all meant ahead of this summer’s World Cup.
At least this round of fixtures did actually have something riding on it. Managers were fine-tuning ahead of the competition in Russia with formations, tactics and personnel still to be decided upon.
There can be no doubt who the main "winner" of the break was. It was Spain. On Tuesday they humiliated Argentina, the 2014 finalists, with the sort of scoreline rarely seen at this level. They won 6-1. Sure, Lionel Messi was injured for Argentina, but it was a result that sent out a message to the rest of the world: Spain is the team to beat.
We would do well to heed it.
Spain, who won the title in 2010, is unbeaten in its last 18 matches and is beginning to purr. Before that result it could be argued they were something of a forgotten team, with the era of dominance supposedly at an end.
But as one casts an eye over the outright lists searching for that standout team, it is hard not to reckon it is the Spanish. And they are a standout price, too; Bet365, Ladbrokes and William Hill (green-listed bookmakers) offer +600.
Brazil, the +500 favorite with William Hill, has also been well-backed this week. They beat Germany 1-0 in Berlin. Just another friendly result we shouldn’t get too carried away with? Probably not. This was a significant result.
Brazil and Germany had not met since the latter humiliated the former 7-1 in 2014. It was a result that forced Brazil to take a long, hard look at itself. And that revenge mission could be the start of its path to redemption. Germany, of course, is the champion.
Do not be fooled. This is crazy betting with crazy money. The Netherlands and Italy didn’t even qualify for the World Cup. And all that was impressive about England was that they appeared to show they have some understanding of how to pass a football and mount an attack. They should be at least +2000 with the players they have.
Another price for the notebook: Uruguay at +3300 with Bet365. That’s a corker of a price about a team that is settled and plays terrific football.