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Around the grounds: How Barcelona stars fared on international duty

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The club had plenty of players in action this week

Portugal v Switzerland - UEFA Nations League Semi-Final Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images

Following the conclusion of the 2018/19 season a whole host of international fixtures have taken place involving Barcelona players.

The inaugural Nations League final was held in Portugal with Jasper Cillessen, Frenkie de Jong and Nelson Semedo all involved, while Barca stars also featured in Euro 2020 qualifiers and a number of friendlies to boot.

Let’s take a look at how some of Barca’s finest have fared on the international stage.

Argentina v Nicaragua - Friendly Match Photo by Marcelo Endelli/Getty Images

Starting with Barca’s forwards, both Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez bagged some attractive goals and enjoyed impressive performances in international friendlies.

Messi netted a brace in the first half of Argentina’s 5-1 victory over Nicaragua, while Suarez scored the second of Uruguay’s goals in a 3-0 win over Panama. Philippe Coutinho started in Brazil’s midweek 2-0 win over Qatar, however he was taken off in the 68th minute during what was a routine win.

Moving onto the midfield and the Brazil fixture saw Arthur feature alongside Coutinho on the other side of a three-man midfield. Arthur left the field just two minutes earlier than his Barca team-mate with minimal impact on the final result.

Both players featured again in Sunday’s 7-0 win over Honduras in their final friendly before the Copa America. Arthur departed early due to a knee injury, while Coutinho netted Brazil’s third from the penalty spot.

Brazil v Honduras Photo by Lucas Uebel/Getty Images

Spain’s Euro qualifier against Faroe Islands saw Sergi Roberto in the Spanish midfield. While a Spanish victory was expected, Roberto played his part in what was a laid-back 4-1 victory. Both Jordi Alba and Sergio Busquets were on the bench, however as neither featured in this Group F clash.

Ivan Rakitic found himself unavailable for Croatia’s challenging fixture against Wales due to a hamstring injury, however the Croats managed well without their veteran midfielder, coming away with a 2-1 win that put them top of Group E based on goal difference. Arturo Vidal starred in the CAM position in Chile’s 2-1 victory over Haiti, and helped his side to dominate proceedings with a massive 73% possession and 19 shots.

Moving onto the Barca backline, and the French duo of Samuel Umtiti and Clement Lenglet were both selected for their nation’s friendly against Bolivia as well as their challenging Euro qualifier against Turkey. While Lenglet did not feature in either clash, Umtiti started at center-back in both fixtures, earning his side a respectable 2-0 win over Bolivia while limiting the away side’s shot count to three. Unfortunately, Umtiti’s night in Turkey was one to forget as two first-half goals saw Turkey silence France 2-0 in order to take top spot in Group H.

Belgium v France: Semi Final - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

While it may seem unlikely due to their status as Barca substitutes, Nelson Semedo and Jasper Cillessen have had the biggest week on the international stage of any of Barca’s stars. Starting at right-back, Semedo assisted Portugal to a 3-1 victory over Switzerland in the Nations League semi-finals. Cillessen, the Blaugranes’ backup goalkeeper, started for the Netherlands in their Nations League clash against England, and helped his side to an impressive 3-1 victory to earn a place in the final alongside Semedo’s Portugal. In fact, Cillessen was only bested by a Rashford penalty in the first half, and kept out several of England’s 18 shots.

Netherlands v England - UEFA Nations League Semi-Final Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images

In what was a fast-paced final, Cillessen produced a splendid performance between the posts, managing to block out a series of attacks by a dominant Portuguese outfit until a long range Guedes strike found the back of the net. Portuguese left-back Semedo certainly showed his worth at right-back, keeping out the Dutch attackers and helping to limit their shot count to a mere five with only one on target. In addition, Semedo also showed his abilities on the attack, charging down the flank on many an occasion and performing some fine dribbles and nearly scoring a second in Portugal's 1-0 victory. If this international break is anything to go by, the Blaugranes would do well not to disregard the talents of Cillessen and Semedo for next season.