Domestic football pauses for another international break this week, and as usual, a raft of Benfica stars have been called up to represent their respective national teams. However, three senior players have already been ruled out due to injury. Read on to find out who will be travelling and who will be staying in Lisbon.
Bruno Varela, Eliseu and Pizzi were all named in Fernando Santos’ Portugal side for the Seleção's upcoming World Cup qualifiers against the Faroe Islands and Hungary, although Pizzi has since withdrawn through injury. The European champions currently sit second in Group B. They host the fourth-placed Faroe Islands on Thursday 31st August, before travelling to Budapest to face third-placed Hungary on Sunday 3rd September. Santos’ men know that they cannot afford to drop any more points if they want to leapfrog Switzerland into the automatic qualification spot for next summer’s tournament.
Andreas Samaris and Kostas Mitroglou have been called up by Greece coach Michael Skibbe for their Group H qualifying matches against Estonia and Belgium. Neither player has featured for Benfica this season as a result of a suspension for Samaris and a left thigh injury for Mitroglou. It is unclear whether Mitroglou will be fit to face fifth-placed Estonia on Thursday 31st August or group-leaders Belgium on Sunday 3rd September.
Defensive midfielder Ljubomir Fejsa was initially included in the Serbian squad for their upcoming matches against Moldova and the Republic of Ireland, but was forced to withdraw as a result of his right leg injury.
Summer signing Haris Seferović should be involved in Switzerland’s forthcoming qualifying matches against Andorra and Latvia. The in-form striker has scored four goals in his first five competitive games for the Eagles, and should be a key man for the Group B leaders, who host fifth-placed Andorra on Thursday 31st August, before facing sixth-placed Latvia in Riga on Sunday 3rd September.
Raúl Jiménez has only played 54 minutes in the Liga NOS for the Encarnados this season, but he has still been included in El Tri's 25-man squad for their World Cup qualifiers against fourth-placed Panama on Friday 1st September and second-placed Costa Rica on Tuesday 5th September. The Mexican forward will be hoping to get some much-needed game-time whilst helping his country to preserve their unbeaten record in the CONCACAF qualifying group.
In-form winger Eduardo Salvio was called up by Argentina manager Jorge Sampaoli for their crucial matches against Uruguay and Venezuela, but was forced to withdraw as a result of the right knee injury that forced him to miss Benfica’s 1-1 draw at Rio Ave. The Argentinean has scored twice in his last three league games for Benfica.
Jhon Murillo, on loan at Turkish side Kasımpaşa, has been included in Venezuela’s squad for their upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Colombia and Argentina. The Venezuelans have only collected six points in their opening 14 games, and can no longer qualify for Russia 2018. They host the second-placed Colombians on Thursday 31st August before travelling to Buenos Aires to face Argentina on Tuesday 5th September.
André Carrillo, who recently joined Premier League side Watford on a season-long loan, has been named in the Peru squad for their World Cup qualifiers against Bolivia on Thursday 31st August and Ecuador on Tuesday 5th September. The Peruvian remains a key player for his country, having started their last four competitive games. Peru lie in seventh in the CONMEBOL standings, awaiting a first World Cup finals appearance since 1982.
Carlos Ponck, currently on loan at Aves, has been named in Cape Verde’s 23-man squad for their back-to-back World Cup qualifiers with South Africa on September 1st and 5th. The Tubarões Azuis sit fourth in CAF Group D, having lost their opening two games against Senegal and Burkina Faso. Ponck has not missed a minute of league action this season, and scored Aves' opening goal in their 2-2 draw with Paços de Ferreira on Matchweek 2.
Hamdou Elhouni, on loan at Chaves for a second consecutive season, should feature for Libya in their World Cup qualification double-header against Guinea on August 31st and September 4th. The Libyans lost their opening two fixtures in CAF Group A, versus DR Congo and Tunisia.
Six Benfica youngsters have been called up as Portugal under-21s open their Euro 2019 qualifying campaign against Wales on September 5th. Head coach Rui Jorge summoned Diogo Gonçalves, Yuri Ribeiro (on loan at Rio Ave), André Horta (on loan at Braga), João Carvalho, Rúben Dias and Francisco "Ferro" Ferreira. Left-back Ribeiro has withdrawn due to injury, and has been replaced by his successor at Benfica B, Pedro Amaral.
Andrija Živković, Luka Jović (on loan at Eintracht Frankfurt) and Ivan Šaponjić (on loan at Zulte Waregem) have all been included in the Serbian under-21 squad for their Euro 2019 qualifier against Gibraltar on September 1st. Živković, who has already been capped five times at senior international level, made his first appearance of the season for Benfica at Rio Ave on Saturday.
Benfica youngsters Alex Pinto, Fábio Duarte, Hélder Baldé and João "Jota" Filipe have been called up by head coach José Guilherme for the forthcoming friendlies against the Czech Republic on August 31st and the Netherlands on September 4th.
Chris Willock, signed from Arsenal in the summer, has been named in Keith Downing’s England under-20 side for the Young Lions’ upcoming international friendlies against the Netherlands on August 31st and Switzerland on September 4th.
Hélio Sousa has selected four Benfica starlets to represent the under-19 national side in a UEFA-licensed friendly tournament in Finland, where they will take on Finland, Holland and Belgium. Fiorentino Luís, Gedson Fernandes, Mesaque Djú and Nuno Santos were selected by Sousa for the tournament in Vaasa.