The international break brought no fewer than eight goals for Benfica’s international contingent, but it was not all good news; three players returned to Seixal nursing injuries. Read on to discover who found the net, and who joined the Eagles’ walking wounded.
Nélson Semedo, Pizzi and Eliseu all started on the bench as Portugal cruised to a 3-0 victory against Hungary in their World Cup qualifier at the Estádio da Luz. Pizzi made a brief cameo, replacing ex-Benfica star André Gomes in the 86th minute. Three days later, all three Benfica players were involved. Eliseu played the first half of the 3-2 defeat to Sweden in Madeira, while Pizzi and Nélson Semedo came on for the second half. Eliseu picked up an abdominal strain and is now a doubt for Saturday's Clássico.
Benfica are also sweating on Victor Lindelöf’s fitness ahead of the Clássico. The 22-year old defender missed both of Sweden’s games after spraining his right ankle whilst training with his national team. Head coach Janne Andersson explained that the injury is not serious, and that he expects Lindelöf to recover by the weekend.
Andreas Samaris and Kostas Mitroglou both started Greece’s 1-1 draw with Belgium on Saturday. Mitroglou opened the scoring just after half-time, before being substituted in second half stoppage time. Samaris was booked in the 73rd minute, but completed the game. Greece had two players sent off in what was a feisty affair. The result leaves the Greeks second in Group H, two points behind Belgium.
Head coach Tite kept faith with AS Roma’s second choice goalkeeper Alisson, so Ederson had to make do with a place on the bench for both of Brazil’s World Cup qualifiers this week. The Canarinhos coasted to a 4-1 victory against Uruguay and a 3-0 win over Paraguay, sealing their place at the 2018 World Cup. Alisson conceded a penalty against Uruguay, but he retained his place for the visit of Paraguay.
It was a mixed week for André Carrillo’s Peru, who could only draw 2-2 with rock-bottom Venezuela, before securing a hard-fought 2-1 victory against the much-fancied Uruguay. The 25-year old winger completed 78 minutes of the former game, and 83 minutes of the latter, scoring Peru’s opening goal against Venezuela. Peru are four points adrift of the qualification spots with just four games remaining, leaving them with a slim chance of making it to the World Cup.
Jhon Murillo made his sixth and seventh senior international appearances this week, but he will not be going to the World Cup next year; after their 2-2 draw with Peru, Venezuela were comfortably beaten 3-1 by Chile. With just six points from fourteen games, Venezuela remain bottom of the CONMEBOL table, with no mathematical possibility of qualification.
Raúl Jiménez had a week to forget with Mexico. The 25-year old forward missed a sitter during his 24 minute appearance against Costa Rica, and was forced off injured in the 57th minute after starting against Trinidad and Tobago. He is expected to be out of action for at least two weeks. Despite Raúl's misfortunes, Mexico maintained their momentum with 2-0 and 1-0 victories, respectively, and remain in pole position in the CONCACAF qualification table.
Carlos Ponck made his international debut for Cape Verde in their 2-0 friendly victory over Luxembourg. The 22-year old has been operating as a centre-back at GD Chaves this season, but was deployed in central midfield against Luxembourg. He was one of only five Cape Verde players to complete the ninety minutes.
João Carvalho continued his excellent recent form by grabbing assists in Portugal’s 3-1 victory against Norway and their 1-0 win over Germany. He set up FC Porto’s Diogo Jota in the first game, and Sampdoria’s Bruno Fernandes in the second. Both matches were friendlies.
Portugal performed poorly at the 'Four Nations' tournament in France, struggling to a 2-2 draw with England, a 3-0 defeat to Senegal, and a 2-2 draw with France. All eight Benfica players appeared in the competition. Francisco "Ferro" Ferreira scored Portugal's opening goal against England. Rúben Dias captained the team against England and Senegal, and Yuri Ribeiro skippered the side against France.
Portugal booked their place at Euro 2017 in Georgia, recording a 2-1 victory over Croatia, a 2-1 defeat to Turkey, and a 3-1 win against Poland. All seven Benfica players featured during the final round of qualification, with the exception of Hélder Baldé. Zé Gomes netted against Turkey, João Filipe scored against Croatia, and Mesaque Djú grabbed a goal against Croatia and an assist against Turkey. January signing Pedro Pereira captained the side against Turkey.
Despite Branimir Kalaica’s best efforts, Croatia were unable to qualify for Euro 2017. They finished second in Group 4, two points behind Portugal. Kalaica played all ninety minutes of the 2-1 defeat to Portugal, the 2-0 win over Poland, and the 0-0 draw with Turkey. The 18-year old defender scored his country’s opening goal against Poland.
He may have been disappointed not to have been included in Slavoljub Muslin's senior squad, but Andrija Živković did not let that show in his performances this week. The in-form winger contributed a goal and an assist in his team’s 2-0 friendly win over Sweden, although he was powerless to prevent their 2-1 friendly defeat to Slovakia.
Luka Jović had a disappointing week with Serbia’s under-20 side. He failed to get on the scoresheet in either game, playing 73 minutes of the 2-0 loss to Slovakia, and 69 minutes of the 1-1 draw with Ukraine.