11 Barcelona players called up for international duty

Brazil manager Tite and Philippe Coutinho (left) during the training session at Enfield Training Ground, London. (Photo by Simon Cooper/PA Images via Getty Images)
Brazil manager Tite and Philippe Coutinho (left) during the training session at Enfield Training Ground, London. (Photo by Simon Cooper/PA Images via Getty Images) /
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The October international break provides Barcelona with a breather after a poor run of form.

Barcelona lose 10 players to their national teams during the second international break of the season as teams across the world take part in friendlies with European sides also being involved in the inaugural Nations League tournament.

Ivan Rakitic, Sergio Busquets, Malcom, Arthur Melo, Philippe Coutinho, Ousmane Dembele, Thomas Vermaelen, Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Jasper Cillessen, Arturo Vidal are the players involved. Altogether, five of the 11 players that have been used most this season are with their national teams, which is a low amount for such a big side. Ballou has also received a call-up to play with the Canadian senior team, but he is a B team player.

Sergi Roberto, Samuel Umtiti and Luis Suarez are all likely to have been called up if they weren’t dealing with their respective injuries. Ivan Rakitic and Sergio Busquets are the main worries in terms of playing time because they have been involved in every game so far with 862 minutes of playing time for each. However, Spain’s abundance of talented midfielders means that Luis Enrique has plenty of alternative to Busquets.

Arturo Vidal has the longest distance to travel because he will be playing in Miami, USA and Queretaro, Mexico. Tite has decided to do his training in England in order to cut down travel distances, with Brazil set to play Argentina and Saudi Arabia in Riyadh; this helps Barcelona because the three Brazilians shouldn’t be as fatigued as they usually would be if they had to travel across the Atlantic to South America and back again.

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This leaves Lionel Messi, Jordi Alba, Gerard Pique, Nelson Semedo, Clement Lenglet, Rafinha, Denis Suarez, Munir El Haddadi as the senior players left in Barcelona. This is good news for Ernesto Valverde because Messi, Alba and Pique are pivotal individuals in the team with all three being involved in every game so far this season.

The Argentine is irreplaceable due to the multiple roles he fills, so his absence can be clearly seen in the team’s play. Alba has a unique understanding with him which means he is a crucial tool in breaking down opposing defences even though he is a left-back while Pique is the only right-footed centre-back in the squad. All three will be important in the next three games against Sevilla, Internazionale and Real Madrid, which are all likely to be tough.

Semedo and Lenglet are also increasing in importance so they are likely to be involved in some of these matches as well. Therefore, having a two-week period without a game allows them to rest and recharge for the tough spell ahead. It also provides Valverde with the time to come up with a solution to Barcelona’s defensive issues. They also struggled to break down Valencia’s defence in the last game, but their ball retention was excellent and most teams would have crumbled under the control they had.

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This period of rest could be important for Pique due to the number of individual errors he has committed in recent games and him, Messi and Valverde are likely to come together to discuss the problems they are having as a team due to being key elements in the hierarchy of the squad.