Luis Suárez will be in the Middle East to play in two friendlies for Uruguay. PHOTO: fifa.com

[[DES_2]]The first team returns to training this Tuesday at 11.00 AM CET, but no fewer than fourteen players will be absent. Piqué, Sergio Busquets, Jordi Alba, Iniesta, Pedro, Sergi Roberto, Mascherano, Messi, Neymar, Claudio Bravo, Rakitic, Suárez, Mathieu and Ter Stegen all have internationals, some competitive and some friendlies, in Asia, Europe and South America.

The moist enticing of all the games this week is the friendly between South American powerhouses Brazil and Argentina on Saturday 11 at the Olympic Stadium, Beijing. Neymar and Messi, who have both been performing so wonderfully together at Barça, will now be on opposing teams, with Mascherano also in the Argentine squad named by former FCB boss Tata Martino.

Both sides will stay in the Far East for a second friendly on Tuesday 14. Brazil will be in Singapore to play Japan and World Cup finalists Argentina will be playing the Hong Kong national team.

There are five Barça players in the Spain squad that has two Euro 2016 qualifiers to play this week. Piqué, Pedro, Iniesta, Jordi Alba and Sergio will be facing Slovakia and Luxemburg on October 9 and 12. Spain got off to a fine start with a 5-1 win over Macedonia last month.

Rakitic’s Croatia also started with a win, 2-0 against Malta. This week their campaign continues against Bulgaria on the 10th and away to Azerbaijan on the 13th.

Friendlies

Other Barça players have friendlies this week. Luis Suárez will be getting a valuable chance to prepare for his return from suspension as he puts on the Urugauy shirt to play against Saudi Arabia on October 10 and Oman on October 13. Bravo will be flying home to Chile to captain his country against Peru on the 9th and Bolivia on the 14th. As France are hosting Euro 2014 and thus qualify automatically, their games in Group I are officially classed as friendlies and don’t count towards the points table. Mathieu and his international colleagues face Portugal on October 11 and are away to Armenia on the 14th.

U21 playoffs

Both Sergi Roberto and Ter Stegen have U21 qualifiers this week. The competition has reached the playoff round, with fourteen teams going head-to-head to battle for a place in next year’s finals in the Czech Republic. Spain play Serbia in Jagodina on October 10 and the sides meet again in Cadiz for the return leg on the 14th. On the same dates, Germany will play Ukraine, and like Spain are at home for the second leg.

Barça B’s Sandro and Munir will also be absent this week as, like Sergi Roberto, they have been named to the Spain U21 team that’s playing Serbia in the Euro playoff.

Rafinha out

Rafinha was due to travel to join the Brazilian Olympic squad, but after picking up a thigh injury he will be staying in Barcelona. His presence in training this week will depend on the verdict issued by the Club Medical Services.

INTERNATIONAL FIXTURES

Thursday 9 October

Slovakia v Spain

Friday 10 October

Chile v Peru

Saudi Arabia v Uruguay

Ukraine v Germany

Bulgaria v Croatia

Serbia v Spain (U21)

Saturday 11 October

Brazil v Argentina

France v Portugal

Sunday 12 October

Luxemburg v Spain

Monday 13 October

Oman v Uruguay

Croatia v Azerbaijan

Tuesday 14 October

Armenia v France

Chile v Bolivia

Argentina v Hong Kong

Brazil v Japan

Germany v Ukraine

Spain v Serbia (U21)