Barça players Messi, Mascherano, Alexis and Afellay all played for their national teams on Saturday. Mascherano captained the Argentinean team, which was led to victory against Ecuador by Messi, Alexis harried the Bolivian defence and led to the expulsion of Luis Gutiérrez after a heavy tackle on him and Afelley was in the starting XI for the friendly against Northern Ireland and scored twice in the 6-0 win. Today, it is Keita’s turn, as he plays in Mali’s World Cup qualifier against Benin.

Messi, crucial

Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella fielded both Mascherano and Messi in an attacking display as they brushed aside Ecuador 4-0 in their fifth game of the qualifying rounds for the 2014 World Cup.

Messi was everywhere for the 90 minutes – linking up with Di Maria to set up Sergio Agüero for the first goal, scoring the second after a one two with Higuain and with a quarter of an hour left brilliantly setting up José Sosa for another. The Argentina team’s next game is a friendly against Brazil next Saturday in New Jersey.

Alexis causes Bolivia problems

Alexis Sanchez’s Chile won an important victory in La Paz, beating Bolivia 2-0 and although the Barça man didn’t get onto the scoresheet, he proved a constant danger and provoked 4 yellow cards and a straight red for Luis Gutierrez, though he paid a price himself, needing treatment a number of times for various blows. Chile’s goals came from Aránguiz and Arturo Vidal.

Afellay exhibition

Afellay showed that he is completely recovered from his serious injury and getting back to top form when he starred in Holland’s 6-0 trouncing of Northern Ireland. The Barça man started the game on the left wing and scored twice, with two shots from the edge of the box in the morale boosting win. Van Persie, Sneijder (2) and Vlaar, from an Afellay assist, scored the other Dutch goals.

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