Ivan Rakitic has left the Croatia squad to return to Barcelona with an Achilles injury.

The midfielder had been called up by head coach Zlatko Dalic for Saturday's final Euro 2020 qualifying match against Slovakia, in which a draw will be enough for the World Cup finalists to progress from Group E.

Croatia then meet Georgia in a friendly match next week.

However, Rakitic has gone back to Catalonia due to a heel problem and has not been named in the Barca squad for a charity game against Cartagena, the club confirmed on Tuesday.

He told Novi List in his homeland: "I'm afraid I cannot help the team, but I'm convinced my team-mates will have success without me."

The 31-year-old has struggled for regular football this season, starting just once in LaLiga for Ernesto Valverde's side.

The former Sevilla star has been linked with a possible January move, with Juventus, Inter and AC Milan among the clubs said to be interested.

Brazil captain Thiago Silva is not concerned about coming up against Lionel Messi in Friday's clash with bitter rivals Argentina, rather seeing it as a source of pride to take on the Barcelona superstar.

Messi is back in the Argentina squad for the first time since the Copa America, where Brazil beat Argentina 2-0 in July's semi-final.

After that controversial encounter, Messi accused CONMEBOL of corruption, earning a four-match ban and a $50,000 fine.

Messi is expected to make his return during the friendly clash in Saudi Arabia, and Silva prefers not to look at the situation with fear, instead relishing facing one of the best.

"We are not concerned but proud to have a chance to face him," Silva told reporters on Monday.

"They [Argentina] have their star, we won't have ours [Neymar, who is injured], but Brazil is Brazil, and we showed it during our Copa America win.

"They are living a different moment, as are we when you consider the last few matches. Brazil versus Argentina is always a great game, with great football and scoring chances.

"There's a 50:50 winning chance for each side - let's hope we are more inspired then than they are."

Brazil winger Willian added: "He [Messi] is a great player, unmatched, the best in the world. We've faced Argentina when he played before, and this will be just like those times.

"There must be more attention on him, we must restrict his spaces. We'll not man-mark him, but whoever is around him must close down the spaces, not leave him room to think."

Real Madrid youngster Rodrygo Goes is in line to earn his first senior cap at the tender age of 18 after breaking into the first team at the Santiago Bernabeu.

The wide attacker has already scored five goals in just six matches for Madrid, and Silva has been impressed, even suggesting he hopes Zinedine Zidane leaves the teenager out when Paris Saint-Germain take on the LaLiga giants in the Champions League later this month.

"The fact he's with the Selecao is a unique opportunity, he surely has dreamt about this moment," the PSG defender said of Rodrygo. "I hope he can enjoy it the best way possible.

"I have over 100 caps and every time I'm here, I feel the chills. I hope he has the wisdom to make the most of it.

"It's surprising really to most people, an 18-year-old with loads of personality. You see for the way he scores goals how calm and reserved this kid is, he's not doing it to show off.

"Let's hope Zidane keeps him on the bench! He's a player who'll demand more attention from your side. His quality speaks for itself."

Argentina pair Marcos Rojo and Roberto Pereyra have been ruled out of the country's international friendlies against Brazil and Uruguay.

As Lionel Messi prepares to make his comeback following a three-month suspension, Argentina defender Rojo and midfielder Pereyra have withdrawn from Lionel Scaloni's squad.

Rojo was ruled out following Manchester United's 3-1 Premier League win over Brighton and Hove Albion on Sunday in which he appeared at Old Trafford, while Watford's Pereyra succumbed to a hamstring injury.

Argentina have drafted in Boca Juniors' Alexis Mac Allister for Friday's showdown with South American rivals Brazil in Saudi Arabia and the November 18 fixture against Uruguay in Tel Aviv.

Messi is back in the squad after the Barcelona and Argentina captain was banned by CONMEBOL in August and fined $50,000 for accusing the governing body of corruption following his side's semi-final loss to Brazil at the Copa America.

The 32-year-old has missed Argentina's past four matches – all friendlies – which has seen the country rout Ecuador (6-1) and Mexico (4-0), and draw with Chile (0-0) and Germany (2-2).

Luis Suarez is back for Uruguay for his nation's friendlies against Hungary and Argentina this month.

The Barcelona star last featured for his country at the Copa America earlier this year, but is set for a return after being named in a 22-man squad on Friday.

Suarez missed Uruguay's matches against Peru last month, instead staying in Barcelona to undergo medical treatment.

The 32-year-old has found form for his club, moving onto eight goals in 12 games in all competitions this season.

Paris Saint-Germain forward Edinson Cavani, Real Madrid midfielder Federico Valverde and Inter pair Diego Godin and Matias Vecino are also part of the squad.

Uruguay face Hungary in Budapest on Friday before taking on Argentina in Israel three days later.

Uruguay: Martin Campana (Independiente), Fernando Muslera (Galatasaray); Sebastian Coates (Sporting CP), Diego Godin (Inter), Giovanni Gonzalez (Penarol), Diego Laxalt (Torino), Bruno Mendez (Corinthians), Gaston Silva (Independiente), Mathias Suarez (Montpellier), Matias Vina (Nacional); Rodrigo Bentancur (Juventus), Brian Lozano (Santos Laguna), Nahitan Nandez (Cagliari), Lucas Torreira (Arsenal), Federico Valverde (Real Madrid), Matias Vecino (Inter); Edinson Cavani (PSG), Maxi Gomez (Valencia), Brian Rodriguez (Los Angeles FC), Jonathan Rodriguez (Cruz Azul), Cristhian Stuani (Girona), Luis Suarez (Barcelona).

Barcelona forward Lionel Messi is back in Argentina's squad for next month's friendlies against Brazil and Uruguay after serving a three-month suspension.

Messi was banned by CONMEBOL in August and fined $50,000 for accusing the governing body of corruption following his side's semi-final loss to Brazil at the Copa America.

The 32-year-old has missed Argentina's past four matches - all friendlies - but is in line to make his return in November after being named in Lionel Scaloni's latest 26-man squad.

Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero is also included for the first time since Argentina's 2-1 third-place play-off victory over Chile in the Copa America, while Tottenham midfielder Giovani Lo Celso returns after sitting out of this month's draw with Germany and victory over Ecuador.

There is still no place in the squad for Paris Saint-Germain's in-form striker Mauro Icardi, however, with his most recent cap coming against Mexico in November 2018.

Club team-mate Angel Di Maria, absent since the Copa America, is also missing again.

Argentina meet Brazil in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on November 15 and then travel to Tel Aviv, Israel, to face Uruguay three days later in the final international break of the calendar year.
 

Argentina squad in full:

Agustin Marchesin (Porto), Emiliano Martinez (Arsenal), Esteban Andrada (Boca Juniors), Juan Musso (Udinese); German Pezzella (Fiorentina), Juan Foyth (Tottenham), Marcos Rojo (Manchester United), Nehuen Perez (Famalicao), Nicolas Otamendi (Manchester City), Nicolas Tagliafico (Ajax), Renzo Saravia (Porto), Walter Kannemann (Gremio); Giovani Lo Celso (Tottenham), Guido Rodriguez (Club America), Leandro Paredes (Paris Saint-Germain), Lucas Ocampos (Sevilla), Marcos Acuna (Sporting CP), Nicolas Dominguez (Velez Sarsfield), Roberto Pereyra (Watford), Rodrigo de Paul (Udinese); Lautaro Martinez (Inter), Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Lucas Alario (Bayer Leverkusen), Nicolas Gonzalez (Stuttgart), Paulo Dybala (Juventus), Sergio Aguero (Manchester City).

England have sold out Wembley for the first time for a women's match ahead of next month's friendly against Germany, the Football Association (FA) has announced.

A capacity crowd of 90,000 on November 9 would top the record attendance for a women's match in the United Kingdom, set at the 2012 Olympics as 80,203 spectators watched the United States defeat Japan to claim the gold medal at Wembley.

Meanwhile, the record attendance for a Lionesses home fixture stands at 45,619 for the previous meeting between England and Germany at the same venue in 2014.

England played in front of a crowd of 29,238 at the Riverside Stadium earlier this month - a record for a Lionesses match outside of Wembley - in their first game since reaching the Women's World Cup semi-finals.

The upcoming fixture is set to fall just short of the long-standing official record for a women's match - 90,125 watched the 1999 World Cup final between United States and China at the Rose Bowl in California.

Sue Campbell, FA director of women's football, said: "This is a magnificent show of support for the squad and staff after a tremendous year of progress for the England team.

"My thanks go to everyone who has bought a ticket as we never take such support for granted.

"We started the year with success at the SheBelieves Cup, had a wonderful World Cup including securing Olympic qualification and it is only fitting that we get to end 2019 on a high - and can also say our own thank you to those who have backed us all the way.

"What will make it even more special is to see everyone who has bought a ticket turn up on the day to help smash the all-time record."

Darwin Nunez came off the bench to rescue a late 1-1 draw for Uruguay against Peru in their international friendly in Lima.

Christofer Gonzales' header gave Peru a 34th-minute lead after Uruguay were reduced to 10-men when Martin Caceres was sent off on Tuesday.

But Nunez headed in Matias Vina's cross against the run of play to earn La Celeste an unlikely draw after victory over the same opposition four days ago at Estadio Centenario in Montevideo.

Tuesday's match came to life in the 26th minute after a scrappy opening, when experienced defender Caceres was shown a red card for two cautions within a minute.

The former Barcelona and Juventus defender was booked for his initial challenge on Miguel Trauco before receiving a second yellow for his protests to Colombian referee Carlos Herrera.

Uruguay head coach Oscar Tabarez reacted by introducing Giovanni Gonzalez for Maxi Gomez, the visitors conceded moments later when Peru had their first notable chance of the game.

Luis Advincula beat his marker down the right and whipped in a teasing cross for Gonzalez to head home unmarked.

Peru had defeated Uruguay 5-4 on penalties in June's Copa America fixture en route to a final defeat by Brazil and they continued to look comfortable, as La Celeste lacked the sharpness shown in Friday's 1-0 win.

But two substitutes linked up for La Celeste as Vina's cross found Nunez, who had only been on the pitch for five minutes, to head in and have the final say for the visitors.

Arturo Vidal was in no mood to paper over the cracks after Chile secured a 3-2 friendly victory over Guinea. 

The Barcelona midfielder scored from the spot as Chile came from behind to triumph at Estadio Jose Rico Perez in Spain on Tuesday.

It was Chile's first win in normal time since June, but the performance left a lot to be desired and Vidal conceded there was plenty of room for improvement. 

"The important thing was that we won," he said, with Reinaldo Rueda's side having been held to goalless draw by Colombia at the weekend. "We scored three goals and that has not happened for a long time. 

"The desire and work are there, we have to wait a little longer and keep improving, we can give more. If we give everything in each game, we can reach our goals.

"We gave them the first chance and they scored with it. We had to go looking and we managed to score three goals. We have to improve, clearly.

"There are very few players left from the last 10 years, there are new players that need to be supported. In the future this team can achieve a lot."

Jean Meneses and Felipe Mora were both on target, opening their accounts at international level. 

Alexis Sanchez may require surgery after suffering an ankle tendon injury while on international duty with Chile, Inter have confirmed.

Chile coach Reinaldo Rueda had suggested Sanchez – who is on loan at Inter from Manchester United – could be set to miss "two to three months" after suffering an ankle injury in Saturday's friendly with Colombia.

The forward had further tests upon his return to Milan, with the results of those examinations confirming Sanchez has dislocated his ankle.

"Sanchez underwent medical tests earlier this morning at the Humanitas Institute in Rozzano," read a statement from Inter. 

"Results revealed a joint dislocation in his left ankle which has caused damage to the peroneus longus tendon."

Sanchez will now travel to Barcelona for consultations with professor Ramon Cugat, who has often treated injured Manchester City players, including Benjamin Mendy and Kevin De Bruyne, to determine whether an operation will be required.

Former Arsenal star Sanchez has made four appearances for Antonio Conte's side this term, scoring one goal in Serie A, though he was sent off later in that match against Sampdoria.

Paddy McNair scored twice as Northern Ireland's sublime first-half showing was enough to earn a thrilling 3-2 win over the Czech Republic on Monday.

Michael O'Neill's side suffered a disappointing Euro 2020 qualifying defeat to Netherlands on Thursday but bounced back in style with a superb opening 45 minutes.

McNair got them on their way with a fine finish in the ninth minute before Jonny Evans doubled the advantage midway through the opening period.

The impressive McNair scored a second five minutes prior to the break before the hosts set up a tense finale with two goals in as many minutes from Vladimir Darida and Alex Kral in the second half, but the away side saw out the win.

The visitors started with a spring in their step and powered into a ninth-minute lead.

Liam Boyce's pass from the left wing found McNair on the edge of the penalty area and the Middlesbrough midfielder took a touch past Ladislav Krejci before slotting into the bottom-right corner.

They deservedly doubled their advantage midway through the first half when Evans reacted quickly after a goalmouth scramble from a corner to scoop home his fourth international goal.

McNair then scored his second after 40 minutes, latching onto Steven Davis' throughball before rounding the onrushing Jiri Pavlenka and slotting into an empty net.

The hosts improved markedly after the restart and reduced the deficit with quick-fire goals in the 67th and 68th minutes.

First, Darida crashed an effort into the roof of the net from Zdenek Ondrasek's lay-off before Kral superbly whipped into the bottom corner from 18 yards after turning inside Craig Cathcart.

The resurgent hosts did most of the pressing in the closing stages – Ondrasek rightly seeing a goal ruled out in stoppage time after he had bundled the ball out of Michael McGovern's hands – but Northern Ireland ultimately held on for an impressive win on the road.

What does it mean? First-half blitz too much for hosts

O'Neill said this game could be good practice ahead of a potential Euro 2020 play-off and he will be delighted with the way his side went about their business inside the opening 45 minutes. He will be less pleased with the way they lost focus in the second half, allowing the Czech Republic to get back into the game courtesy of some sloppy defending. 

McNair makes his mark

After scarcely featuring for Middlesbrough last season, the 24-year-old is very much back in favour this campaign, starting every game for the Championship side. That is bearing fruit for his country, with the former Manchester United man scoring two fine goals in what was a superb display at the heart of the Northern Ireland midfield.

Simic run ragged by visitors

Making just his second appearance for his country, Stefan Simic endured a game to forget. He was consistently out of position during a torrid opening 45 minutes and suffered the ignominy of being hauled off at the break.

What's next?

The Czech Republic round off their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign with Group A games against Kosovo and Bulgaria next month, while Northern Ireland face a daunting double-header against Netherlands and Germany.

Alexis Sanchez could be sidelined for "two to three" months after sustaining a potentially serious ankle injury, according to Chile coach Reinaldo Rueda.

Sanchez was substituted late in Chile's goalless friendly draw with Colombia on Saturday after suffering what the Football Federation of Chile described as a "dislocation of left ankle peroneal tendons".

The forward, who is on loan at Inter from Manchester United, will undergo further tests in Milan, with Rueda suggesting he could be out of action for the foreseeable future if surgery is required.

"If the club operates, we could be without him for two to three months," he told a media conference. "It is a pity. He had been regaining form for his club and played in the Champions League.

"Now we have to wait for these crucial hours to know what decision the club will take."

Sanchez has scored one Serie A goal since leaving United for Inter, his sole strike coming in a win away to Sampdoria, during which he was sent off.

Argentina striker Lucas Alario applauded "animal" Marcos Acuna after the Sporting CP star inspired Sunday's 6-1 friendly win over Ecuador.

Acuna, normally a left-sided attacker, has been deployed at full-back this season and filled that role impressively in Elche as Argentina romped to victory, coming in for Nicolas Tagliafico after he disappointed last time out.

The 27-year-old had a hand in the first three goals and was generally a lively presence up down the left flank.

Alario – who scored for the second match running – was particularly impressed, having opened the scoring with a header from Acuna's cross.

"Acuna is an animal," Alario told TyC Sports. "The routes he took… He was uncatchable.

"He runs all the time, he has a very good delivery and as a centre-forward, you have to take advantage of those qualities."

The victory ensures Argentina's international break will be seen in a largely positive light, having drawn 2-2 with Germany in a friendly on Wednesday, fighting back from 2-0 down.

Lionel Scaloni was left feeling encouraged, especially after being able to give so many players a run-out over the two games.

"In all the internationals we are satisfied, although it's true that because of the magnitude of the rivals we are also happy and that we could give many players minutes," Scaloni said.

"There is quality and desire to be here, too. We only need time and that the players play as they have done today [against Ecuador].

"The boys are understanding the changes and that must be valued. Honestly, I think these guys can give us a lot, although there are some things to correct.

"What I liked most was the last 20, 25 minutes, which was the period where the team pushed the most and ran despite the victory [already being secured].

"I am excited about the way these guys understand the meaning of this jersey. With these feelings it will be difficult to beat this team.

"There are five or six players who are the base and have always played. It is easy to know who they are: Lautaro Martinez, Leandro Paredes, Rodrigo De Paul, Nicolas Tagliafico, even Paulo Dybala and Marcos Acuna."

Brazil coach Tite is adamant Neymar had shown no sign of injury before Sunday's 1-1 friendly draw with Nigeria, in which the forward was withdrawn after 12 minutes due to leg discomfort.

Neymar was named in Brazil's starting XI for the friendly in Singapore but appeared to reach for the back of his left leg as he made an early exit.

He was then seen in conversation with a member of Brazil's staff on the bench, though Neymar did not look to be in significant pain.

Nevertheless, given the injury problems the forward has sustained in the last two years, Tite was asked after the game if he had taken a risk by playing him.

Tite was unequivocal in his response, insisting the Paris Saint-Germain star would not have played had there been any doubt over his fitness.

"No, not at all," Tite replied when asked if Neymar was at risk before the game.

"It would be irresponsible and incompetent of me [to play him if he was a doubt]. I would have to receive the complaints of the coach and the president of PSG if that happened."

With the international break now over for Brazil, Neymar will return to PSG, who are next in action against Nice on Friday.

 

Tite commended Brazil's second-half improvement against Nigeria despite being left with a disappointing 1-1 draw and four-match winless streak from Sunday's friendly in Singapore.

Casemiro's scrambled equaliser three minutes into the second half earned the Selecao a share of the spoils following Joe Aribo's opener.

The Copa America winners had already suffered one blow prior to falling behind, losing star forward Neymar to a suspected hamstring problem in the 12th minute.

His replacement, Philippe Coutinho, squandered a late chance and Real Madrid midfielder Casemiro rattled the crossbar with a header as Brazil failed to improve on the 1-1 draw they registered against Senegal on Thursday.

"The result was insufficient," Tite told reporters at the National Stadium.

"In terms of results, the Brazilian team always wants to win and seeks to win.

"But especially in the second half, we had a great performance. We had ball possession and creativity.

"It's no use having possession of the ball without creating, but we did. It was not effective [enough] to score."

Though the superior side after a sloppy first half, Brazil have now failed to overcome any of Colombia, Peru, Senegal and Nigeria since being crowned South American champions on home soil in July.

Tite's men would have had less work to do had defender Marquinhos made a better effort to block Rangers midfielder Aribo's path to goal in the 35th minute.

The Paris Saint-Germain centre-back put the onus on the entire team to break free of their funk.

"As soon as possible we need to rediscover our game pattern," Marquinhos said.

"We have conceded goals in each of these four games. We have to improve collectively, then the individual [personalities] will appear."

Brazil face bitter rivals Argentina in Riyadh on November 15 before rounding out their 2019 schedule with a friendly against South Korea in Abu Dhabi four days later.

Argentina built on their promising second-half display against Germany by crushing Ecuador 6-1 in a friendly on Sunday, with Marcos Acuna playing a starring role.

Lionel Scaloni suggested the team produced their best performance of his tenure when fighting back from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 with Die Mannschaft on Wednesday and they looked sharp again in Spain, albeit against more modest opposition.

As soon as Argentina took the lead through Lucas Alario's header, it never looked like being anything other than a comfortable win for La Albiceleste, who went into half-time three up thanks to a Jhon Espinoza own goal and Leandro Paredes' penalty – Acuna playing a role in each of the goals.

Angel Mena pulled one back early in the second half thanks to some woeful goalkeeping from Agustin Marchesin, but it was not the start of sensational comeback, as Argentina romped to victory with German Pezzella, Nicolas Dominguez and Lucas Ocampos getting in on the act.

But for an early Michael Estrada free-kick that flew just over, Argentina dominated the first half and were good value for the lead when Alario scored for the second game running, heading Acuna's corner in with 20 minutes played.

Acuna played a decisive role again seven minutes later, Pedro Ortiz failing to keep his left-wing cross out after it took a deflection off Espinoza.

It was 3-0 soon after thanks to Paredes' spot-kick – Dario Aimar penalised for fouling Lautaro Martinez following another teasing Acuna's delivery.

Ecuador made four half-time changes and one of those introduced took just three minutes to make his mark, as Mena found the top-right corner with a 30-yard free-kick from the inside-left channel to embarrass Marchesin, who seemingly thought it was going over.

Argentina stepped things up again, however, with Pezzella re-establishing the three-goal cushion 24 minutes from time with a header from Paulo Dybala's left-wing free-kick.

Dominguez then drilled a fine drive into the bottom-left corner and Ocampos rounded off an emphatic win from a tight angle after Ortiz had parried Dybala's curler.

 

What does it mean? La Albiceleste starting to click

There were hints of it in the second half against Germany, but Sunday's display provided more comprehensive proof that Argentina are beginning to find their groove once again.

While Ecuador are going through a difficult moment, Scaloni's side highlighted their technical qualities while working hard in a thoroughly professional showing.

Acuna stakes his claim

Nicolas Tagliafico's stranglehold on the left-back spot has frustrated some fans in recent times, particularly after a difficult outing against Germany. Acuna came in on Sunday and showed why many are calling for him to get a run in the side. Even if it was only against Ecuador, he was a constant threat on the left and his deliveries were exceptionally consistent.

Marchesin loses his bearings

Several Ecuador defenders produced unimpressive displays, but Argentina's Marchesin will go down as the flop of the match after his suspect goalkeeping for Mena's goal – the Porto man inexplicably letting it float over his head and into the net.

What's next?

Scaloni's men return to action next month in another friendly, as they face Paraguay in Bangladesh. Ecuador are yet to schedule any fixtures for the November international break.

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