It doesn’t seem all that long has passed since the last international break, but sure enough, various Juventus players have left on international duty for their respective national sides.
In total, sixteen Bianconeri players will be in action during the break, the most important of the bunch being the five Italian players who depart for Sweden to play in an all important play-off with the aim of securing a place in the World Cup finals in Russia, 2018.
First up,Mario Mandzukic will be in action for the Croatian national side in their play-off match against Greece on Thursday night where the first leg is at home and the reverse leg takes place on Sunday. Stephan Lichtsteiner’s Swiss side are also in action on the same night, facing a tough match up against Northern Ireland although the first leg is away from home, offering them a small advantage.
Medhi Benatia has returned to the Moroccan national side, despite previously retiring from international duty to concentrate on improving his domestic form with Juventus. Morocco will face the Ivory Coast on Saturday in the hopes of securing a place in the finals for June 2018.
Finally, Gigi Buffon, Andrea Barzagli, Federico Bernardeschi, Giorgio Chiellini and Daniele Rugani will be in action against a tough Swedish side as they bid to qualify for Russia 2018, the first leg taking place in Stockholm on Friday before the reverse leg in Italy on Monday evening.
A number of other players will be away on international duty albeit in friendly matches – Paulo Dybala has been called up to the Argentina squad to face Russia and Nigeria while both Douglas Costa and Alex Sandro will be in the Brazilian side to play friendlies against Japan and England. Juan Cuadrado will likely feature for Colombia when they face South Korea and China, while young midfielder Rodrigo Bentancur has been called up for Uruguay in their games against Poland and Austria.
Wojciech Szczęsny will be favourite to start in goal when Poland play Uruguay and Mexico, while Blaise Matuidi has become a mainstay in the France team and he will probably play against Wales and Germany. Finally, Sami Khedira will be in the German squad when they face England and France respectively, although Benedikt Howedes has been omitted from the team as he continues his recovery following a series of injuries that have blighted the start to his Juve career.
Gonzalo Higuain has been in tremendous form, returning to his goal-scoring ways, netting 5 goals in the last 4 games, although he has been left out of the Argentine national squad in favour of Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona), Sergio Aguero (Manchester City), Mauro Icardi (Inter Milan), Angel Di Maria (Paris Saint-Germain), Paulo Dybala (Juventus), Dario Benedetto (Boca Juniors), Cristian Pavon (Boca Juniors).