Friday evening’s international matches gave some indication of which players will be fresher than others for Double Gameweek 32.
A lot of the attention was on disappointing results for Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, but we’ve looked deeper than the exploits of those worldwide superstars.
Euro 2020 qualifying
Portugal 0-0 Ukraine
- Rui Patrício (£4.5m) – 90 minutes
- Bernardo Silva (£7.5m) – 90 minutes
- Oleksandr Zinchenko (£4.7m) – 90 minutes
- Joao Moutinho (£5.3m) – 87 minutes
- Rúben Neves (£4.9m) – 62 minutes
- Diogo Jota (£6.1m) – 0 minutes
Portugal’s 0-0 draw with Ukraine held some clues to suggestions of rotation at Wolves in Double Gameweek 32, ahead of their FA Cup semi-final the following weekend.
Goalkeeper Rui Patrício (£4.5m) played the whole fixture, while Joao Moutinho (£5.3m) was involved for 87 minutes and Rúben Neves (£4.9m) was replaced in the 62nd minute.
Both central midfielders were rested the last time Nuno Espirito Santo rotated his side ahead of FA Cup action, so their heavy involvement for their countries could count against their hopes of two starts in Double Gameweek 32.
However, it was good news for Diogo Jota‘s (£6.1m) chances of significant minutes in the upcoming expanded round of fixtures. He was an unused substitute for Portugal after earning his first call-up to the senior side.
Manchester City options Bernardo Silva (£7.5m) and Oleksandr Zinchenko (£4.7m) both played 90 minutes themselves in their countries’ first matches of the international break, the former on the right of an attacking front three.
With Riyad Mahrez (£8.2m) an unused substitute for Algeria and Kevin de Bruyne (£9.7m) not on duty for Belgium but reportedly close to a return, Pep Guardiola will potentially have fresh options to rotate with Bernardo if he wishes. That may be important for him considering how busy Manchester City’s schedule is.
Albania 0-2 Turkey
- Cenk Tosun (£6.4m) – 90 minutes
- Caglar Söyüncü (£4.9m) – 0 minutes
Everton striker Cenk Tosun (£6.4m) had a productive evening against Albania on Friday as he played 90 minutes for Turkey, assisting Burak Yilmaz’s opening goal.
Meanwhile, Caglar Söyüncü (£4.9m) continues to be on the fringes of both Leicester City and his national side as he was an unused substitute.
Andorra 0-2 Iceland
- Gylfi Sigurdsson (£7.3m) – 90 minutes
- Johann Berg Gudmundsson (£5.5m) – 83 minutes
- Aron Gunnarsson (£4.4m) – 63 minutes
Gylfi Sigurdsson (£7.3m) got a full 90-minute outing in the number 10 role for Iceland on Friday night, although was not involved in either of their goals.
Johann Berg Gudmundsson (£5.5m), who is still rebuilding to full fitness at Burnley, featured for 83 minutes and will be hoping it helps him make a second consecutive league start in Double Gameweek 32.
Aron Gunnarsson (£4.4m), who recently returned to regular starting action for Cardiff, managed 63 minutes before being replaced.
Moldova 1-4 France
- Hugo Lloris (£5.4m) – 90 minutes
- N’Golo Kanté (£5.0m) – 90 minutes
- Paul Pogba (£8.9m) – 90 minutes
- Olivier Giroud (£7.7m) – 81 minutes
Chelsea striker Olivier Giroud (£7.7m) continued to prove he is ready to step into the lone centre-forward role if Maurizio Sarri requires his services. The Frenchman registered a goal in 81 minutes against Moldova. However, his chances of being involved in Double Gameweek 32 are of course affected by the fact that Gonzalo Higuaín (£9.6m) has not been on international duty with Argentina.
Meanwhile, Paul Pogba (£8.9m) also got himself assist playing, as he usually does with France, in the deeper midfield pair of a 4-2-3-1 formation. That’s the preferred position of compatriot N’Golo Kanté (£5.0m), who has been playing much further forward for Chelsea this season but got 90 minutes alongside Pogba against Moldova.
Everton defender Lucas Digne (£5.2m) was an unused substitute for France but appeared to pull out the squad on Saturday after reports of an injury. That should see him miss Monday’s clash with Sigurdsson’s Iceland.
“Very happy with yesterday’s result but disappointed not to be able to continue on this gathering.” – Lucas Digne
Argentina 1-3 Venezuela
- Juan Foyth (£5.0m) – 90 minutes
- Salomón Rondón (£6.0m) – 72 minutes
Newcastle striker Salomón Rondón (£6.0m) continued his scoring run as he netted in Venezuela’s friendly win over Argentina. That’s good news for anyone fielding him for his next two fixtures, against Arsenal (away) and Crystal Palace (home).
However, it was a much more disappointing night for Tottenham centre-back Juan Foyth (£5.0m). He was deployed in a back-three that could not contain Venezuela’s one-man attack or five-man midfield. The youngster has started just one Premier League match for Spurs since Gameweek 19 and his role in this defeat will have hardly helped his chances of a return to regular game-time.
As has already been reported, Sergio Aguero (£11.8m) was not on international duty with Argentina, handing him a fitness boost for Double Gameweek 32.
Peru 1-0 Paraguay
- Fabian Balbuena (£4.2m) – 90 minutes
- Miguel Almirón (£6.0m) – 90 minutes
It was a disappointing opening to the international break for Newcastle man Miguel Almirón (£6.0m). He played in central midfield for Paraguay as they were beaten 1-0 by Peru, thanks to a fourth-minute Christian Cueva goal.
However, it was good for West Ham centre-back Fabian Balbuena (£4.2m) out since Gameweek 18, to get 90 minutes for his country.
AFCON 2019 qualifying
Nigeria 3-1 Seychelles
- Wilfried Ndidi (£4.9m) – 90 minutes
- Alex Iwobi (£5.4m) – 73 minutes
Alex Iwobi (£5.4m) operated in a number 10 role but did not play particularly well, losing possession several times due to poor passing. According to local press, the Arsenal midfielder struggled to link with the strikers and, despite having the right ideas going forward, could not execute them. He was replaced in the 73rd minute.
Wilfried Ndidi (£4.9m) fared much better controlling the pace of the game for Nigeria and won the penalty that saw Odion Ighalo open the scoring.
Sudan 1-4 Equatorial Guinea
- Pedro Obiang (£4.3m) – 90 minutes
West Ham midfielder Pedro Obiang (£4.3m) had an enjoyable evening on Friday. Equatorial Guinea and Sudan had already been eliminated from AFCON 2019 qualifying so played out a dead-rubber match in which Obiang scored the fourth and final goal for his country.
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