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International break roundup: joy, heartbreak, and injury

Mustafi’s injury looms large over the Gunners as they return from international duty.

Wales v Republic of Ireland - FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier
Aaron Ramsey and Wales lost at home to the Republic of Ireland, ending their World Cup hopes.
Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images

The international break was mostly kind to Arsenal’s players, the majority of whom booked their tickets to the World Cup. The glaring exception to that is Shkodran Mustafi who suffered a muscle injury against Azerbaijan and is expected to be out for three weeks. It was also an international break to forget for Sead Kolašinac, Aaron Ramsey, and Alexis Sánchez, who saw their World Cup hopes extinguished.

David Ospina, Colombia: Ospina did not have the best international break. He conceded two late goals against Paraguay, and he inexplicably touched a goal-bound indirect free kick in the Peru game.

Had Ospina let the ball go into the net, Colombia would have had a goal kick, but by touching it, he gifted Peru a goal. It may not be the easiest thing to do as a keeper in the moment with the ball coming at you, but he should have done better. Ospina’s gaffe also cost Alexis Sánchez a spot in the World Cup — the point Peru gained from the draw moved them ahead of Chile.

Lost 2-1 to Paraguay, Drew 1-1 with Peru

Laurent Koscielny, Alexandre Lacazette, Olivier Giroud, France: The French took care of business, qualifying for the World Cup. Koscielny, presumably still recovering from his achilles flare-up, did not feature in either match. Lacazette played 75 minutes against Bulgaria and would have had a second assist on the French goal if those were a thing in soccer. Giroud started and scored against Belarus. He probably didn’t know much about his goal, but they still count the same, right?

Won 1-0 over Bulgaria, Won 2-1 over Belarus

Nacho Monreal, Spain: Spain qualified for its 11th-straight World Cup (last missed: 1974). Monreal did not feature against Albania and played the full 90 against Israel.

Won 3-0 over Albania, Won 1-0 over Israel

Shkodran Mustafi, Germany: Welp, by now you’ve probably heard that Mustafi picked up an injury against Azerbaijan. He has already been ruled out for the Watford match and is expected to miss three weeks.

Oh and Germany finished its qualifying unbeaten, winning all 10 of its matches.

Won 3-1 over Northern Ireland, Won 5-1 over Azerbaijan

Sead Kolašinac, Bosnia & Herzegovina: a late Yannick Carrasco goal all but sealed Bosnia’s fate in the first match of the break. Heading into the second match, Bosnia needed Gibraltar (who hadn’t won a point in the group) to miraculously beat Greece. They didn’t, and Kolašinac will watch the World Cup from his couch.

He played the entire match against Belgium and crossed the ball that eventually led to Bosnia’s first goal. He was substituted off at halftime of the Estonia match leading to speculation about a potential injury. Of course those concerns were unfounded. The substitution was tactical. You can’t break Bosnian Hulk.

Also notable, flares thrown by Bosnian fans at the Estonia match literally lit the pitch on fire. Like, firefighters had to come onto the pitch before the match could resume.

Lost 4-3 to Belgium, Won 2-1 against Estonia

Aaron Ramsey, Wales: Heartbreak for Ramsey and the Welsh as their bid to make the country’s first World Cup since 1958 were extinguished with a 1-0 home loss to the Republic of Ireland. Ramsey played the entirety of both matches.

Wales missing out is probably a good thing for Arsenal. It means the oft-knicked-up Ramsey will have a full summer of rest and should be available from the off next season. If you recall, Wenger has a tendency to rest players whose teams make deep runs into summer tournaments.

Won 1-0 over Georgia, Lost 1-0 to Republic of Ireland

Granit Xhaka, Switzerland: The Swiss face a playoff to reach the World Cup after losing in Portugal on Tuesday. Xhaka played the entirety of both matches and scored the first goal against Hungary. In an uncharacteristic turn, he also managed to avoid a booking in either match.

The Swiss will face one of Northern Ireland, Sweden, the Republic of Ireland, or Greece. The playoff draw takes place on October 17th.

Won 5-2 over Hungary, Lost 2-0 to Portugal

Mohamed Elneny, Egypt: the Pharaohs secured their first World Cup bid since 1990 on a Mohamed Salah penalty in extra time. Elneny played the entire match and assisted on Salah’s first goal.

Egypt’s qualification also gave us this video, a reminder of just how meaningful international soccer can be.

Won 2-1 over Congo

Alex Iwobi, Nigeria: Iwobi ensured he never has to buy a drink again in Nigeria with this goal that booked the Super Eagles’ spot in Russia.

Won 1-0 over Zambia

Alexis Sánchez, Chile: a loss to Brazil and Peru picking up a point against Colombia means that Chile’s golden generation are out of the World Cup. Alexis played all of both matches and scored the winner against Ecuador, extending his record as Chile’s leading goalscorer. I think he’d give all of them back to be in Russia next summer.

As mentioned above, David Ospina didn’t do Chile any favors - his blunder against Peru sealed La Roja’s fate. Will anything come of it in North London? Probably not, but it might lead to some #banter in the papers.

Won 2-1 over Ecuador, Lost 3-0 to Brazil

And with that, our attention shifts back to North London and Arsenal. Starting with Saturday’s match away to Watford, the Gunners have six matches in 22 days. Let’s hope everyone gets and stays fit because Arsene Wenger is going to need his full complement of players.