International week round-up
ALPHONSE AREOLA/PRESNEL KIMPEMBE/ADRIEN RABIOT/KYLIAN MBAPPÉ - FRANCE
Mission accomplished for France ! Thanks to their two wins - against Bulgaria (1-0) on Saturday and Belarus on Tuesday (2-1) - Les Bleus pipped Sweden to top spot in Group A and an automatic ticket for next summer's 2018 FIFA World Cup finals. Adrien Rabiot played nearly an hour against Bulgaria after replacing N'golo Kanté, picking up his fourth cap. Kylian Mbappé started against Bulgaria and came off the bench to replace Kingsley Coman (61') against Belarus, taking his tally to eight.
KEVIN TRAPP/JULIAN DRAXLER - GERMANY Having qualified thanks to their 3-1 win over Northern Ireland, the reigning champions rounded things off with a 5-1 defeat of Azerbaijan in Kaiserslautern on Monday. Julian Draxlber played 72 minutes of the first game, but a bout of flu meant he watched the second from the sidelines.
THOMAS MEUNIER - BELGIUM
Though they had already qualified prior to this international break, Belgium continued their attacking tour de force winning 4-3 against Bosnia-Herzegovina on Saturday, a game in which Thomas Meunier scored and registered an assist. They followed that up with a 4-0 win over Cyprus to finish joint-leading scorers in qualifying with Germany (43).
EDINSON CAVANI - URUGUAY
Held goalless by Venezuela on Thursday (0-0), Uruguay won 4-2 against Bolivia in Montevideo on Tuesday thanks in part to a goal from Edinson Cavani, taking his CONMEBOL-leading tally to ten. That helped his country finish second in the standings, earning them a place in Russia next summer.
DANI ALVES/MARQUINHOS/THIAGO SILVA/NEYMAR JR - BRAZIL
Already certain of their place in Russia, Brazil draw with Bolivia in La Paz on Thursday (0-0), a game Dani Alves and Neymar Jr played right through. Thiago Silva started the match, but was replaced by Marquinhos half-an-hour in due to injury. On Tuesday, Marquinhos captained the side to a 3-0 win over Chile. Neymar Jr played all but the last five minutes, Dani Alves again played the full 90. With just one defeat in their 18 games, Brazil finished top of the CONMEBOL section.
ANGEL DI MARIA - ARGENTINA
Held goalless by Peru last Thursday, Argentina took it down to the wire, earning their place in the finals with a final-day 3-1 win over Ecuador. Angel Di Maria started the game and provided the assist for the first of Lionel Messi's hat-trick as the 2014 runners-up finished third in the section.
Italy secured a play-off spot despite the absence of Marco Verratti. They will learn their opponent on 17 October.