Barcelona Players Shine in International Matches

Xavi remains a key player for the Spanish national team (Photo by Alex Grimm/Getty Images)

The first games of the international break were good for the most part for Barcelona players. As always, the majority of Barca's internationals traveled with Vicente Del Bosque's Spain team. The only other players in action were Lionel Messi for Argentina and Dani Alves for Brazil.

Pedro scored twice, David Villa converted a penalty, and Xavi bent in a free kick as Barcelona players were responsible for four of Spain's five goals in their 5-0 win over Saudi Arabia.

Meanwhile, Lionel Messi scored from a wicked free kick to help Argentina down Paraguay 3-1. Dani Alves had a fair performance in a rather mediocre Brazil side, who had to labor to beat South Africa at home by a score of 1-0.

For La Roja, Pedro was the star of the night, notching a brace as Spain defeated Saudi Arabia in a friendly. He began the day by slipping past defenders for a shot that was parried by the keeper only to be tucked in on the rebound by Santi Cazorla for the first goal of the match. Six minutes later, Cazorla repaid the help with a great pass to Pedro, who finished it with a Messi-like chip into the net.

Although he started on the wing, Pedro took on a central striking spot when Fernando Torres (incidentally collecting his 100th cap for Spain) was subbed out. This is the position that Pedrito scored his second goal of the night, and it is of tactical interest for both Barca and La Roja that he performed well from an unusual spot.

The happiest player in the game, however, may have been David Villa, who marked his return to Spain's national team after a long injury with a penalty goal. He scored in his first game back for Barcelona as well.

Xavi, meanwhile, scored his 12th goal for Spain off a masterful free kick.

Victor Valdes made a rare start in goal, though he was replaced by Iker Casillas in the 72nd. Gerard Pique, Cesc Fabregas, and Sergio Busquets were the other Blaugrana players making a start for Spain. At halftime, Pique was replaced by Sergio Ramos and Cesc was replaced by Xavi. Barca's own Andres Iniesta came in for Busquets at the 61 minute mark.

Argentina played a World Cup Qualifier against Paraguay, hoping to add to their recent run of good form. It didn't take long, as Angel di Maria's shot deflected off Ezequiel Lavezzi and into the net for an early Albiceleste lead. Paraguay equalized via the penalty spot, but Argentina again retook the lead thanks to Gonzalo Higuain.

Argentina's captain, Messi, hit the post from a well-taken free kick and again after a magnificent play in which he stole the ball from the defense, dribbled through an opponent, and chipped the keeper. It could have been a nervy end were it not for Messi's insistence and talent. In the 63rd, he took another free kick, this one a long range attempt from about 30 yards out. This time, he thundered it past the keeper and into the net. After the goal, Argentina finished the game comfortably.

In Brazil, things were much less rosy. After the disappointment of losing the gold medal match in the summer, Brazillian fans deemed their team's unspectacular 1-0 victory over South Africa unacceptable. Dani Alves turned in a solid 90 minutes, although Brazil fans may wonder why he wasn't the constant offensive threat he is regularly for Barcelona.

Brazil were unfortunate enough to face a great individual effort from South Africa's keeper Itumeleng Khune, who made a handful of great saves. On the other hand, the Verde-Amarela had to rely on their own keeper, Diego Alves, to pull off some saves to keep their clean sheet.

Hulk finally scored for Brazil, but it was not a happy ending despite the win. The fans jeered their own team, many frustrated from an unconvincing performance. Barca's Adriano was an unused substitute.

Jordi Alba was called up by Del Bosque but did not play because he reported some muscle pain, although the injury is considered minor.

Javier Mascherano, a regular in the starting XI for Argentina, was unavaiable through suspension. He should be back in the team for the game against Peru.

Alexis Sanchez did not play because Chile had the matchday off, but he will probably feature in the game against Colombia on the 11th.

Ibrahim Afellay was not called up by the Netherlands for their game against Turkey, despite having been a starter for most games in Euro 2012. Afellay is still a Barcelona player, on loan to Schalke 04.

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