FCBarcelona - Racing 15-10-11 (32)

Pep Guardiola will carefully discern the physical state of the 15 players who were on international duty before he decides on his starting 11 for the game against Zaragoza. For Guardiola, having played a lot of minutes and travelled thousands of kilometers doesn’t necessarily condition a player’s chances of being named to Barça’s starting team.

Eight internationals started in Anoeta

Barça played in Anoeta on the 10th of September after the season’s first international break. Guardiola fielded eight international players from the start against Real Sociedad: Valdés, Alves, Busquets, Keita, Xavi, Thiago, Pedro and Alexis. Of these, Busquets was the international player to have played the most minutes with a national side, he also happened to play the full 90 minutes against Real Sociedad. Villa would later come on for the injured Alexis in the 32nd minute.

In the second half, Messi and Iniesta were subbed in, whilst other international players, Puyol, Abidal and Mascherano, didn’t play. Barça ended up drawing 2-2 in a game where they led 2-0.

Nine against Racing

The last international break didn’t have a negative effect on Barça’s form, as they beat Racing de Santander 3-0 on October 15th. Guardiola didn’t take any chances and brought out the heavy artillery for the match; 9 of the manager’s starting 11 (Valdés, Alves, Piqué, Puyol, Xavi, Thiago, Pedro, Messi and Villa) played for their national teams during the League break.

Unlike in the game against Real Sociedad, Busquets didn’t play at all. Mascherano also watched the game from the bench, while Keita and Adriano were subbed in during the second half. Messi, having played the full 90 minutes in both of Argentina’s matches, played a brilliant game and scored two goals. Xavi, who started in both of Spain’s internationals, also came away with a goal against Racing.

The downside, just like in Anoeta, were the injuries. In the eight minute, Piqué limped off the field to be replaced by Éric Abidal.