Previously an international coach with Paraguay, Gerardo Martino knows all about the effects that club football can have on the international game -- but for arguably the first time in his career, he is about to experience what international football can do to the domestic game. A change in the calendar (Saturday matches moved to Friday, and Wednesday matches moved to Tuesday) has undoubtedly softened the blow for top clubs, but international breaks are still a difficult time for clubs like FC Barcelona. Players return jet-lagged, fatigued and sometimes even injured -- all through no fault of the club -- and on occasions, this can lead to defeats, or draws. Thanks to the unique structure of La Liga (i.e. the Barca-Madrid duopoly) one poor result can effectively "end" a season.
So, while Premier League clubs can afford a post-international break draw or two, the FIFA Virus can be terminal to a team's title aspirations in Spain.
The treatment? Effective rotation -- an area that Martino appears to have been briefed about. Pedro misses out on a place in the squad after his efforts for Spain, while there are question marks over the likes of Andres Iniesta, Xavi and Neymar, each of whom played a lot of minutes for their respective countries.
Thankfully, Barcelona will have the Camp Nou crowd behind them, and their support may well prove to be the difference (at least that, and the larger pitch on offer in Catalunya). Can Barcelona extend their 100% start to four matches, or will Unai Emery engineer yet another upset against the Blaugrana? Predict the score of tonight's match in the comments below to be in with a chance of winning a brand-new Barca shirt at the season's end. Best of luck!
More from Barca Blaugranes:
- La Liga: FC Barcelona vs Sevilla FC: Match Preview
- FC Barcelona News: 13 September 2013; 20 Player Squad for Sevilla Game Announced, Carles Puyol Joins Group in Training
- Real Madrid and Barcelona: An "El Clasico" Season Preview
- FC Barcelona News: 12 September 2013; Barça Internationals Return to Training
- FC Barcelona News: 11 September 2013; Lionel Messi, Neymar Shine on International Stage, Spain Draw With Chile