1. Italy's friendly firepower
You can take your joga bonito, your tiki-taka, your total football and any other contrivance you care to mention: what it is all supposed to boil down to is winning, pure and simple. No national team down the decades have better represented that attitude – the single-minded pursuit of victory – than Italy. They are the ultra-competitors, which is perhaps why, deep down, the notion of friendly matches seems to offend them, or at least turn them off. Few nations' friendly results contrast with their competitive results as sharply as Italy's.
Accordingly, the Euro 2012 finalists go into Wednesday's match in Amsterdam on the back of five straight defeats in friendlies (to Uruguay, USA, Russia, England and France). It will be interesting to see how hard they fight to avoid a sixth, which would be a record losing streak. It will also be interesting to see how the intriguing and potentially wonderful new Milan partnership of Mario Balotelli and Stephan El Shaarawy fare on the international stage. Balotelli reckons that the duo, who played together in the defeat to France before they became club-mates, could be deadly: "Playing with me could work because I'm quite a generous player,'' he said. "He could score a lot and so could I."
2. Holland's new midfield
The Dutch are in the doldrums and Louis van Gaal will use this match to try to sketch out a way forward. With several erstwhile stalwarts either injured, out of form or out of favour, the Oranje will have a decidedly green look about them on Wednesday. The make-up of the midfield will be especially interesting, with Swansea's Jonathan de Guzman in line to start, probably alongside the 22-year-old Kevin Strootman of PSV and AZ Alkmaar's 19-year-old schemer, Adam Maher. If Feyenoord's 21-year-old Jordy Clasie is chosen ahead of De Guzman, the Holland midfield will consist entirely of young home-based players. There could be another youngster further forward, notably on the left, where Benfica's exciting 20-year-old Ola John, brother of Collins, may well start.
3. France's persistent players
Moussa Sissoko had been ignored by France managers for over two years until he was called up last October for the friendly against Japan and the World Cup qualifier in Spain. He was superb against the Spanish, embarking on the sort of run that Newcastle fans are already familiar with, before setting up France's late equaliser. A midfield featuring Sissoko, Yohan Cabaye and Blaise Matuidi offers power and precision and their contest with their Germany counterparts could be fascinating.
With Les Bleus in decent form, Didier Deschamps does not plan to make many changes but one player whose performances in Ligue 1 have almost demanded that he be given a debut is Romain Alessandrini, the 23-year-old left-sided attacker from Rennes who may just be an eventual replacement for Franck Ribéry. Like Ribéry (and Mathieu Valbuena), Alessandrini gives hopes to players who were rejected as youngsters, having been ditched by Marseille when he was 15. He briefly gave up on becoming a professional footballer but took a contract with Gueugnon in the third tier. From there he moved to Clermont Foot in Ligue 2 until being brought to the top flight by Rennes last summer. In only 19 matches in Ligue 1 he has scored nine goals, made five assists and dazzled sufficiently to convince Deschamps that he may belong among the elite.
4. Clash of champions
It's the European and world champions against the champions of South America, for goodness sake! OK, so there have been the predictable slew of withdrawals and Uruguay have been stuttering so much of late that their chances of reaching the next World Cup are in real jeopardy but Luis Suárez, Diego Forlán and Edinson Cavani may start together again. It is always worth watching that trio, and with Suárez only four goals shy of Forlán's all-time Uruguay record of 33, watching them could be more amusing than ever, what with checking to see if there is any slight reluctance on Forlán's behalf when it comes to passing to his team-mate. Chelsea's César Azpilicueta could be among the Spain defenders trying to complicate Suárez's task.
5. Socceroos places up for grabs
Australia are unbeaten in their last six matches but half of them were against countries with fewer than 11 inhabitants and their last defeat, against Jordan in September, was fully deserved. It also severely dented their chances of reaching the World Cup. To undo the damage caused by the loss in Amman, the Socceroos need to beat Oman next month and this match with Romania in Málaga is seen as a vital part of the preparation for that, with several spots in the starting lineup seemingly still up for grabs.
Their captain Lucas Neill is suspended for the Oman game so a solid performance against an impressive Romania attack could seal the deal for one of Rhys Williams (the 19-year-old Middlesbrough player who is seen as a potential star for Australia), Ryan McGowan or Robert Cornthwaite, the Chunnam Dragons defender who was excellent in November's friendly win in South Korea. Nikita Rukavytsya and Mathew Leckie also starred in that match and may get a chance to see if they can stand out amid more established attacking options such as Brett Holman, Mark Bresciano, Alex Brosque and Robbie Kruse.
6. Bonus ball
Let's monitor all this week's friendlies to see if we can guess which, if any, outcomes were commissioned by betting syndicates.