Ban international football.
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The international break is over, and along with it comes injuries to star players. Arjen Robben went down in the Netherlands’ first game, and a slew of other stars are out this weekend and beyond after getting injured in their second games, or training immediately afterwards.
Thibaut Courtois suffered the worst injury. He’s had surgery on his meniscus and will miss 10-12 weeks. James Rodriguez is out this weekend with a thigh injury, the severity of which is yet to be revealed. And Manchester City will be without David Silva this weekend, while Fabian Delph is out six weeks.
In the news
David De Gea has signed a new contract with Manchester United, so if Real Madrid want him next summer, he’ll be expensive. (The Busby Babe)
Javi Martinez will return to Bayern Munich’s squad this week. (@FCBayernEN)
Ali Krieger is sitting out the Spirit’s NWSL semi to go to her father’s wedding. (Washington Post)
Saido Berahino is available for selection for West Brom this weekend. (BBC)
Fiorentina are complaining to FIFA about Mohamed Salah’s alleged breach of contract. (Guardian)
RSL’s Chris Schuler is out for the season with a broken foot. (MLS)
Gerard Pique has lost his suspension appeal and cannot play against Atletico Madrid this weekend. (AS)
Giuseppe Rossi will make his full return from injury and start for Fiorentina this weekend. (Football Italia)
Andy Carroll is back from a long layoff this weekend too. (Mirror)
U.S. Soccer is having to answer to congress about FIFA solidarity payments. (SI)
You should be reading
Mike Goodman on how Manchester City became England’s best team again. (Grantland)
Colin Millar on Joaquin’s return to Real Betis. (These Football Times)
Barney Ronay on Neymar, who looks likely to be the international stats king. (Guardian)
What to watch this weekend (all times ET, click for listings)
Bundesliga: ‘Gladbach vs. HSV (Friday, 2:30 p.m.) – The Friday offerings aren’t terrific.
EPL: Everton vs. Chelsea (Saturday, 7:45 a.m.) – Did the international break fix everything (but Courtois) for the Blues?
EPL: Crystal Palace vs. Manchester City (Saturday, 10 a.m.) – A great test to see how good both of these teams really are.
EPL: Manchester United vs. Liverpool (Saturday, 12:30 p.m.) – If Liverpool are going to sneak top four, they’re going to have to win a few games like this.
La Liga: Atletico Madrid vs. Barcelona (Saturday, 2:30 p.m.) – The clear match of the weekend on a really, really good weekend.
Serie A: Inter vs. Milan (Sunday, 2:45 p.m.) – Both fanbases expect to return to the top three this year. There’s probably only room for one of them.
Argentine Primera: River Plate vs. Boca Juniors (Sunday, 5:15 p.m.) – Once the best rivalry game in the world, now criminal nonsense is the norm. Hopefully no one assaults the players.