Crunch encounters for FC Barcelona internationals

Crunch encounters for FC Barcelona internationals

Fourteen members of the first team plus Ondoa of Barça B are playing for their countries this week. For the Europeans, places at France 2016 are up for grabs

After the first two weekends of Liga play, with FC Barcelona winning both their opening games, the action now stops for the international break.

There are just four games left to play in the Euro 2016 qualifying groups, two this week and two in October, and all of the nations with Barça representation are in the running for one of the 24 spots in France next summer.

In addition, Munir and the Spain U21 squad begin their quest for a place in Poland in 2017, and Barça B’s Ondoa will be joining the Cameroon squad for an African Nations Cup qualifier. Meanwhile, both Argentina and Brazil will be in the United States to play friendlies.

* All kick off times CET

Spain (Piqué, Bartra, Alba, Iniesta and Busquets)
- 5 September: Spain v Slovakia (8.45pm)
- 8 September: Macedonia v Spain (8.45pm)

In Oviedo on Thursday, Spain have a chance to avenge 2-1 defeat in Slovakia last October and draw level with their guests at the top of Group C. Three days later they are away to Macedonia, who have just three points from their first six matches. Spain look assured of at least a place in the playoffs, but Ukraine are also in contention for the top two positions that allow direct qualification for France.  

Spain U21 (Munir)
- 2 September: Estonia v Spain (6.45pm)

Spain begin their bid for a place in the finals in Poland in 2017 with a trip to Estonia. The other four teams in Group 6 are Croatia, Georgia, San Marino and Sweden.

Croatia (Ivan Rakitic)
- 3 September: Azerbaijan v Croatia (6.00pm)
- 6 September: Norway v Croatia (6.00pm)

Croatia are currently top of Euro 2016 qualifying Group H, but Italy and Norway are hot on their tails and Bulgaria are still in contention too. Rakitic’s side will be looking for all three points in Baku, but the awkward trip to Oslo pits them against one of their direct rivals.

Turkey (Arda Turan)
- 3 September: Turkey v Latvia (8.45pm)
- 6 September: Turkey v Holland (6.00pm)

Turkey are currently fourth in their qualifying group, but three of their last four games are at home, so they are still in a fairly strong position. Latvia have yet to win a game, so the Turks will fancy their chances there, but the game with third placed Holland is the big challenge. Iceland and the Czech Republic are first and second in the group, and Turkey play both of them in October.

Belgium (Thomas Vermaelen)
- 3 September: Belgium v Bosnia Herzegovina (8.45pm)
- 6 September: Cyprus v Belgium (8.45pm)

Defeat for Belgium in Cardiff put Wales in the driving seat in Group B, but Belgium are still well poised in second place. Israel are two points behind in third, with Belgium’s two opponents this week, Bosnia and Cyprus, both close behind.

Germany (Ter Stegen)
- 4 September: Germany v Poland (8.45pm)
- 7 September: Scotland v Germany (8.45pm)

World champions Germany lost when they travelled to Poland last year, but now have the chance to make amends and in doing so, move to the top of the group. In a crunch week for them, they then face the trip to Glasgow to play third placed Scotland.

Argentina (Messi and Mascherano)
- 5 September: Argentina v Bolivia (2.30am)
- 9 September: Argentina v Mexico (4 am)

Argentina are in Texas for their first matches since defeat to Chile in the Copa America final. They face Bolivia at the BBVA Compass Stadium, Houston and then Mexico at the AT&T Stadium, Arlington.

Brazil (Neymar Jr. and Rafinha)
- 5 September: Costa Rica v Brazil (10.00pm)
- 9 September: Brazil v USA (2.30am)

Like Argentina, Brazil have a couple of friendlies in the United States this week. The first is in the Red Bull Arena, Harrison, NJ against Costa Rica, and then they face the host nation before what is sure to be a sell-out crowd at the Gillette Stadium, Boston.

Cameroon (Ondoa; Barça B)
- 6 September: Gambia v Cameroon (6.30pm)

Cameroon beat Mauritania 1-0 in their opening African Nations Cup qualifier. They now travel to Gambia in a Group M that also includes South Africa.

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