International breaks are always tough. Being one of the best clubs in the world we have many players that play key roles for their respective countries. This means they get a lot of game time which means lots of possible injuries. This time around was no different as we saw fifteen of our own take to the pitch this international break. There were some positives in terms of the performances from our players and also some negatives in the injury and discipline departments. Let’s take a look.
Perhaps the most criticized Barcelona player, Gomes played well this break for the large majority of Portugal’s 3-0 win against Hungary. Then he came on for the last eleven minutes of their 3-2 loss to Sweden.
Iniesta played the majority of both of Spain’s matches this break. He helped them in a 4-1 win in a qualifier against Israel and a 2-0 win in a friendly against Israel.
Turan played well in a 2-0 win over Finland but picked up a groin injury which meant he’d miss their friendly against Moldova and possibly Barcelona’s next game away at Granada.
Suárez featured for Spain’s u21 national team in two friendlies. He came off the bench to score against Denmark in a 3-1 win and then played the whole game in a 2-1 win away in Italy.
Piqué was solid as always in both of Spain’s matches against Israel and France. In the France match he came up big with a goal line clearance that kept the game 0-0.
Rakitic got an assist on the only goal in Croatia’s match against Ukraine keeping them three tops above the nearest challenger for the top spot in Group I, the same group as Turan’s Turkey who is in fifth. Rakitic for whatever reason came home to Barcelona early missing out on Croatia’s second game which was a friendly against Estonia.
Even though he was available, Cillessen didn’t feature in either match for the Netherlands this break. Perhaps he could of helped as they lost both of their matches and their manager in the process.
The Argentinian played the whole match against Chile but picked up a yellow card which meant he would be suspended for the next match against Bolivia. With no Mascherano or Messi, the Argentinians looked lost in a 2-0 loss to Bolivia in La Paz.
Alba had a prominent role in both of Spain’s matches. He got an assist in their match against Israel before getting another assist in the match against France.
Messi came up big for Argentina scoring the only goal of a heated match against Chile on an early penalty. Later on, he was handed a four match suspension for insults he directed towards the referee.
Uruguay had a really tough international break losing both of their games against Brazil and Peru. Luis Suárez missed the first game because of a suspension but was relatively average in the game he did play. Uruguay ended up losing 2-1 away at Peru with Suárez unable to score the equalizing goal.
Neymar once again leads a revitalized Brazilian squad to victory in two World Cup qualifiers against Uruguay and Paraguay winning 4-1 and 3-0 respectively. Neymar Jr scored two world class goals, one in each, and also bagged an assist against Uruguay to clinch qualification for Brazil.
Umtiti had a solid game in a 3-1 win against Luxembourg and also against France though he couldn’t keep up with Gerard Deulofeu who sprinted past him for a tap in.
Busquets played the full 90 in both matches for Spain much to the dismay of Barcelona fans. He did however play a part in the buildup of the second goal against France by skillfully passing it to Alba who then delivered a low cross to Deulofeu who finished it off.
Marc-André Ter Stegen
Ter Stegen didn’t have much to do in a friendly against England but perhaps the greatest quality a goalkeeper can have is to have nothing to do for most of the match and then come up with a key save. This is exactly what Ter Stegen did when he came up with a great save on a low Eric Dier shot about 15 minutes before the game’s only goal of the game. Even though he played the full 90 against England, he did not feature in their qualifier against Azerbaijan.
Honorable Mention: Gerard Deulofeu
Former Blaugrane Deulofeu had a fantastic break scoring his first ever goal for Spain in a 23 minute cameo against France.