Club play in Europe’s major soccer leagues has been suspended this weekend for a FIFA international break that will see national teams in the Americas welcoming back old players and greeting new coaches, while in Europe qualifying for next summer’s European Championship gets underway. Here are some of the top games on television this weekend:
The Americas: Lionel Messi returns to the national team for the first time since last summer’s World Cup when Argentina plays Venezuela on Friday in Madrid, a short trip for Messi, who plays his club soccer in Barcelona (BeIN Sports, 12:50 p.m. PDT). Argentina has gone 4-1-1 under interim coach Lionel Scaloni since the early World Cup exit in Russia, outscoring opponents 11-1. That’s earned Scaloni an extended stay through this summer’s Copa America. Mexico also has a new coach in former Atlanta United manager Tata Martino, who will be on the sidelines for the first time with El Tri on Friday in San Diego for a friendly against Chile (UDN, UniMas, 6:30 p.m. PDT).
Europe: It’s been just eight months since England’s surprising run to the World Cup semifinals. The Three Lions begin play on Friday in another tournament, trying to qualify for the European Championship by taking on the Czech Republic in Wembley Stadium (ESPNEWS, 10 a.m. PDT). Croatia, the team that beat England in that semifinal in Russia, also plays a European Championship qualifier this weekend, traveling to Hungary on Sunday (ESPNEWS, 9:50 a.m. PDT).