The international break was a costly one for Benfica, as Kostas Mitroglou and Raúl Jiménez both picked up injuries. Ljubomir Fejsa also suffered a fitness scare, but should be ready to face Arouca in the Liga NOS on Friday night. We take a look at which players have been in action over the past week.
Eliseu and new signing Rafa Silva both featured for just under 30 minutes in Portugal’s 5-0 thrashing of Gibraltar in Porto. But neither player was called upon as Fernando Santos’ side slumped to a 2-0 defeat in Switzerland, in their first competitive fixture since winning Euro 2016.
André Horta made his debut for Rui Jorge’s team, playing 72 minutes of Portugal’s 0-0 stalemate with Israel. He was then used for the first half of their narrow 1-0 win over Greece. Gonçalo Guedes appeared as a substitute in both games, playing 45 minutes of the former, and 28 minutes of the latter. Benfica B’s Yuri Ribeiro completed both matches at left-back, while his teammate João Carvalho came on for André Horta against Greece. Portugal have now qualified for Euro 2017 in Poland, with two games to spare.
Álex Grimaldo won his second cap for Spain under-21s on Thursday, some three-and-a-half years after making his debut. The 20-year old played the full 90 minutes and grabbed an assist in the 6-0 thrashing of San Marino. Four days later, he was an unused substitute as his team drew 1-1 with Sweden. Spain still have a good chance of making it to Euro 2017.
Sweden got their World Cup qualification campaign underway with a 1-1 draw against the Netherlands this week. Victor Lindelöf completed the full 90 minutes, winning his seventh senior cap in the process. Sporting striker Bas Dost had a goal disallowed for a foul on the Benfica defender.
Ljubomir Fejsa watched Serbia’s 2-2 draw with the Republic of Ireland from the stands on Monday night, fuelling speculation that he had picked up yet another injury. According to Portuguese newspaper A Bola, the midfielder suffered a right adductor strain, but it should not threaten his participation in Matchday 4 of the Liga NOS this weekend.
Despite reports that Andrija Živković would remain in Portugal due to injury, the 20-year old joined up with the Serbia squad ahead of their World Cup qualifier with Ireland. Head coach Slavoljub Muslin opted not to risk the young winger in such an important fixture, allowing him to represent Serbia’s under-21 side instead. Živković played for an hour on his injury comeback, as his team claimed a 3-2 win over their Irish counterparts.
Kostas Mitroglou had a particularly productive week, scoring in the 2-1 friendly victory over the Netherlands, before repeating the feat in the World Cup qualifier against Gibraltar. The 28-year old striker also claimed two assists as Greece ran out 4-1 winners. Unfortunately for Benfica, Mitroglou has returned to Seixal with a left thigh strain. Andreas Samaris did not miss a minute of action in either game.
Raúl Jiménez scored a 73rd minute penalty in Mexico’s 3-1 victory over El Salvador, but missed their second game, a goalless draw with Honduras, with a knee sprain. The 25-year old has already begun his rehabilitation with Benfica, and is expected to be out for the next two to three weeks. Mexico finished top of their four-team group, and now progress to the final stage of CONCACAF qualification, a six-team round-robin, which begins in November.
Guillermo Celis made the long trip to South America for Colombia’s World Cup qualifiers against Venezuela and Brazil, but did not spend a single minute on the pitch. His country won the first game 2-0, before suffering a 2-1 defeat in the second. The results leave Colombia fourth in the CONMEBOL qualifying group, the last of the automatic qualification spots.