Leo Messi is away on duty for Argentina / PHOTO: www.afa.org.ar

After a weekend off, the players that have not left the city returned to training on Monday evening, while the rest of squad were away making final preparations for their international matches. Neymar (Brazil); Messi and Mascherano (Argentina); Piqué, Sergio, Pedro, Bartra and Jordi Alba (Spain); Bravo (Chile) and Ter Stegen (Germany U21) are all playing friendly matches on Tuesday night and will be heading back to Barcelona when they are done.

Barça in the media

Javier Mascherano spoke to the Argentinian media about his feelings regarding his national team, confessing that just before the World Cup Final, he had considered retiring from the international scene. “It was a possibility” he admitted. “Not because I wanted to do it in style as world champion, but certainly in a good light … But after speaking to Leo Messi I realised that this generation still has things it can achieve for Argentina and I want to be part of that.”

He also rejected claims that Messi and other Argentinian superstars don’t take playing for their country seriously enough, saying that “nothing hurts more than losing the World Cup Final”.

Sergio Busquets, who scored for Spain against Belarus, also spoke to the press ahead of Tuesday’s friendly with world champions Germany. “I’ve got over my fitness troubles, and I have had no problems in training” he said, while also looking back at the 2010 World Cup semi-final against Germany and remembering that “we played very well in that game and qualified for the final. That was great both for me and for the team”.

Draw for Rakitic

Ivan Rakitic featured in Croatia’s 1-1 draw with Italy in a Euro 2016 qualifier on Sunday night. Italy went ahead in the 11th minute but the Croats managed to equalise just four minutes later and there was no further scoring. Rakitic played all 90 minutes. The result means the two teams stay top of their group with ten points each. The only other side that seems capable of maintaining the pace of the top two is Norway, who beat Azerbaijan last night and are third with nine points.