Benfica’s miserable start to their title defence takes a backseat this week as attention turns to the latest international break. Nations from Europe, North and South America will all play their final group games as they attempt to qualify for next summer's World Cup. Read on to find out who still has a chance of making it to Russia 2018.
Eliseu was the only Benfica player called up by Portugal coach Fernando Santos for their crucial FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Andorra and Switzerland. The European Champions make the trip to already-eliminated Andorra on Saturday 7th October, before their showdown with group leaders Switzerland at the Estádio da Luz on Tuesday 10th October. Santos’ men must win their final two matches to guarantee automatic qualification for next summer’s tournament.
Haris Seferović should be involved in the crucial match with Portugal, having been named in Vladimir Petković’s latest squad. Before that, Switzerland face Hungary at home on Saturday 7th October. The 25-year-old striker has featured 11 times this season for the Águias, scoring five times. Switzerland need four points from their final two matches to ensure automatic qualification for Russia 2018.
Bryan Cristante - currently on loan at Atalanta - has been selected by Gian Piero Ventura for the Azzurri's World Cup Qualifiers against already-eliminated Macedonia on Friday 6th October and third-placed Albania on Monday 9th October. The 22-year-old replaces the injured Lorenzo Pellegrini. Cristante is still eligible to play for Canada through his father, but appears to have committed his future to Italy. The central midfielder has scored 6 goals in 20 matches since joining Atalanta in January. Italy are currently second in Group G on 19 points.
Andreas Samaris has been called up by Greece coach Michael Skibbe for their World Cup qualifying matches against neighbours Cyprus on Saturday 7th October and Gibraltar on Tuesday 10th October. Skibbe’s side sit third in Group H, a point behind Bosnia and Herzegovina, who currently occupy a play-off place.
Eduardo Salvio has been selected by Argentina manager Jorge Sampaoli for their crucial FIFA World Cup qualifiers with Peru and Ecuador. Salvio missed his country’s previous two fixtures against Uruguay and Venezuela due to a knee injury, but will hope to feature this time around. Argentina sit fifth in the CONMEBOL table, level on points with fourth-placed Peru, who they host on October 5th, before facing Ecuador in Quito five days later.
André Carrillo - currently on loan at Watford - will not face Salvio on the field, as he is serving a one-match suspension. He could nonetheless feature when Peru host Colombia on October 10th. Los Incas still have an excellent chance of progressing to their first World Cup finals since 1982.
Jhon Murillo (on loan at Turkish side Kasımpaşa) has been included in Venezuela’s squad for their upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Uruguay and Paraguay. The Venezuelans can no longer qualify for the tournament, having picked up just eight points from their first 16 matches. They host Uruguay on October 5th before facing Paraguay away five days later.
Raúl Jiménez has been included in El Tri's 25-man squad for their World Cup qualifiers against sixth-placed Trinidad and Tobago on Friday 6th October and fifth-placed Honduras on Tuesday 10th October. The Mexicans have already qualified for the tournament finals.
Carlos Ponck (on loan at Aves) is part of Lúcio Antunes’ Cape Verde squad for their World Cup qualifier against Senegal on October 7th. The Tubarões Azuis sit second in CAF Group D on six points, having won back-to-back matches against South Africa during the last international break. Senegal are just a point behind Cape Verde, and won the reverse fixture last October.
Hamdou Elhouni (on loan at Chaves) has retained his place in the Libya setup for their World Cup qualifying encounter with DR Congo on October 7th. The Libyans have already been eliminated and currently sit fourth on three points.
Rúben Dias, João Carvalho, Diogo Gonçalves, Pedro "Pêpê" Rodrigues (on loan at Estoril), João Félix, Yuri Ribeiro (on loan at Rio Ave), Pedro Amaral and Francisco "Ferro" Ferreira were all selected by Rui Jorge for his side’s Euro 2019 qualifier with Bosnia and Herzegovina on October 10th. Heriberto Tavares has also been added to the squad as a late replacement for Vitória de Guimarães' Alexandre Silva.
Andrija Živković, Luka Jović (on loan at Eintracht Frankfurt) and Ivan Šaponjić (on loan at Zulte Waregem) have all been named in the Serbian under-21 squad for their Euro 2019 qualifiers against Macedonia on October 6th and Russia on October 10th.
Seven Benfica youngsters have been summoned by José Guilherme for his side’s forthcoming Elite League matches against Switzerland on October 5th and Italy on October 10th. Alex Pinto, Fábio Duarte, Fiorentino Luís, Gedson Fernandes, João "Jota" Filipe, José "Zé" Gomes and Mesaque Djú are the Benfica players on the roster. Guilherme’s team will be hoping to get back to winning ways, having lost their opening match to the Netherlands.
Benfica B’s Chris Willock has been named in Keith Downing’s England under-20 side for the Young Lions’ upcoming Elite League matches against Italy on October 5th and the Czech Republic on October 10th.