Messi with Argentina squad / PHOTO: FIFA.COM

The Barça squad will again be decimated by international commitments over the next ten days or so, with 18 players away with their national sides for World Cup qualifiers and friendlies. Spain boss Vicente del Bosque has called up Valdés, Piqué, Alba, Xavi, Iniesta, Cesc, Sergio, Villa and Pedro for two key qualifiers against Finland in Gijon this Friday and then in Paris against France on Tuesday 26th in a game that will surely decide the group.

The Spanish under 21 squad are also playing two friendly games – against Norway in Toledo this Thursday and then against Russia in Alcorcon the following Monday and seven Barça players have been called up, four from the first team squad (Tello, Bartra, Montoya and Thiago) and three more from Barça B (Muniesa, Deulofeu and Planas).

Big games for Argentina, Chile and Cameroon

Leo Messi and Javier Mascherano are in the Argentine squad for the South American Group qualifiers against Venezuela in Buenos Aires (Saturday 23, at 01.00) and then against Bolivia in La Paz on Tuesday 26th at 21.00. Argentina currently lead the group, with Venezuela in fourth and Bolivia in seventh and two wins for Sabella’s side would virtually ensure they go to Brazil.

In the same qualifying group, Alexis Sánchez will figure in Chile’s two games as they fight to ensure they are in the finals next year. First up are Peru in Lima (Saturday 23, at 00.30) followed by the visit of Uruguay to Santiago de Chile on Wednesday 27th at 00.30.

Finally, Alex Song has joined up with the Cameroon squad for their big game against Togo in Yaoundé next Saturday at 15.30. Song’s side are currently third in Group J which is headed by Libya.

Two friendlies for Brazill

2014 hosts Brazil will be playing two friendlies in Geneva and London, facing Italy on Friday at 20.30 and Russia the following Monday at 19.30. Dani Alves is in the squad, but the injured Adriano – who will be out for between a month and six weeks, will be missing.