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Antoine Griezmann, Marcos Llorente lead way for Atlético stars in controversial international break

Several rojiblancos have made headlines as the break winds down.

Brazil vs. Argentina suspended amid health concerns Photo by Marcello Zambrana/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

World Cup qualifiers continue through this weekend in South America (more on that later), but in Europe, several Atlético Madrid players continue to move their needle for their national sides.

A recap, below.


TOP STORY Antoine Griezmann’s sensational brace carries France to big win

Fresh off his Atlético homecoming, Griezmann scored both of France’s goals at Parc Olympique Lyonnais on Tuesday in a 2-0 victory over Finland.

The World Cup winner had success early on, frequently connecting with Karim Benzema to set up chances. In the 22nd minute, the two played a give-and-go, leading to a Benzema shot and a tough save.

Griezmann’s efforts were repaid minutes later, when Benzema found him cutting inside the box. With a deft touch, the forward moved the ball and slotted it home with the outside of his foot.

Early in the second half, he iced the game with a low, tight-angle shot across goal, nestling it into the side of the net. With this goal, Griezmann became the third-highest scorer in France’s history.

Brazil-Argentina match suspended; Uruguay best Bolivia

What looked to be the clear highlight of the season’s first international break — a Copa America final rematch starring as many as three Atlético players — devolved into a chaotic, unruly, and ultimately postponed mess.

Sunday’s matchup in São Paulo was suspended after Brazilian health authorities arrived at the stadium and stormed the pitch, aiming to detain and deport four Argentina players who did not quarantine after entering the country.

FIFA intends to take disciplinary action after the game’s suspension — which would have seen Rodrigo De Paul start for Argentina, with Ángel Correa on the bench. Matheus Cunha was on Brazil’s bench after making his senior debut last week against Chile.

In Montevideo on Sunday, Uruguay came out on top in a six-goal thriller with Bolivia. José Giménez started and played all 90 minutes as La Celeste built a 3-0 lead early in the second half. Óscar Tabárez’s men sit fourth in their World Cup qualification group with 12 points from eight games — fourth position is CONMEBOL’s final automatic qualification spot. They can leapfrog Ecuador with another win in Montevideo on Thursday.

Marcos Llorente lays on two assists in comprehensive Spain win

Spain played and won both matches this week — the first being a 4-0 result against Georgia, and the second a 2-0 win over Kosovo.

Llorente, who is no stranger to playing different positions, displayed his versatility over the span of the two matches, being asked to start in the midfield against Georgia and at right back against Kosovo. The 26-year-old assisted Carlos Soler and Ferran Torres in the first half against Georgia, as La Roja put the game to bed early.

Georgia v Spain - FIFA World Cup 2022 Qatar Qualifier Photo by Tamuna Kulumbegashvili/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Koke played the entire match against Kosovo, and he helped maintain the staggering 74 percent possession Spain rang up with his usual effective distribution: 95 percent passing accuracy on the night.

Croatia pound Jan Oblak’s Slovenia, Savić exits early for Montenegro

On Saturday, Slovenia edged out a 1-0 win against Malta thanks to a Sandi Lovric penalty just before the half. In net, Oblak wasn’t challenged too heavily, but he came up with a diving save early on to keep the score level.

Against Croatia, the keeper was active early, dealing with a barrage of crosses from steady attacking pressure. The floodgates were opened with a Marko Livaja goal in the 33rd minute, and Oblak ended up conceding three in a heavy defeat at Stadion Poljud.

Oblak and Slovenia sit in fourth in qualifying group H with seven points.

Holland v Montenegro -World Cup Qualifier Photo by Eric Verhoeven/Soccrates/Getty Images

Stefan Savić took the captain’s band and started at center back in Montenegro’s 4-0 loss to the Netherlands on Saturday. The match saw a brace from Memphis Depay, and goals from Georginio Wijnaldum and Cody Gakpo. The night was all but good for Savić, who received a yellow card in the opening 20 minutes and was subbed off at halftime. He did not see time in the 0-0 draw against Latvia on Tuesday, and an inflamed ankle he sustained over the break may lead him to miss this weekend’s game against Espanyol.

Similar to Slovenia, Montenegro sit fourth in its group, with the Netherlands, Norway, and Turkey in front of them.

Trippier starts England’s win over Andorra, Carrasco helps Belgium to triumph in Brussels

Kieran Trippier took a whopping 121 touches and was instrumental in England’s rout of Andorra, but Gareth Southgate dropped him for Wednesday’s 1-1 draw against Poland. The Three Lions are in a real battle to qualify for the Qatar World Cup, as they sit third in their group.

Belgium is atop this same group, and the Red Devils solidified their advantage with wins over the Czech Republic (3-0) and in Belarus (1-0). Yannick Carrasco played 57 minutes against the former, recording two shots and completing two dribbles while completing 93 percent of his attempted passes.