Messi, one of 70 South American stars missing from Europe’s top five leagues after World Cup

With the return of national football this weekend after the international October break and with a round of Champions League matches on the horizon, teams across Europe are preparing to return to action for the first time in two weeks.

However, with five CONMEBOL World Cup Qualifiers set to be played on Thursday, a slew of South American players based in Europe will return to their clubs late and therefore unlikely to be able to participate in the league games.

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The CONMEBOL World Cup qualifiers have gone quickly this month, with three games played during the 14-day international break – October 7, October 10 and October 14. While not a direct result of COVID-19 and the quarantine restrictions, device stacking has occurred due to the backlog caused by all the various delays and postponements caused by the pandemic over the past 18 months as well as the staging of the Copa America earlier this year.

Due to the elite athlete exemption rule in the UK, double-vaccinated Premier League footballers no longer have to self-isolate for 10 days after returning from international service. Instead, they are allowed to self-quarantine at specialized facilities and leave once a day to train or play while undergoing regular testing all the time. However, the exemption does not really have any effect in this case. The real issue is time, with many CONMEBOL World Cup qualifiers due to take place less than 40 hours before the Premier League return on Saturday.

Somewhere else, real Madrid and Atletico Madrid have successfully asked LaLiga to have their matches (against Athletics Bilbao and Grenade respectively) rescheduled as both clubs still have as many players abroad and the Champions League matches to come on Tuesday. This follows Barcelona and Seville have matches moved last month for the same reasons.

It has even been reported that a group of Premier League clubs have joined forces to hire private jets in order to speed up the return of their South American contingent.

Here’s a full check of which teams from the top five European leagues will be affected by CONMEBOL’s late arrivals this weekend, and to what extent (all kick-off times are listed in BST).

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CONMEBOL 2022 World Cup qualifying matches, Thursday 14 October

Bolivia vs. Paraguay, 9 p.m.
Colombia vs. Ecuador, 10 p.m.
Argentina vs. Peru, 12:30 p.m.
Chile vs. Venezuela, 1 o’clock in the morning
Brazil vs. Uruguay, 1h30


Liverpool (vs. Watford, kick-off at 12:30 p.m.
Alisson (Brazil), Fabinho (Brazil)

Manchester city (vs. Burnley), 3 p.m.
Ederson (Brazil), Gabriel Jesus (Brazil)

Manchester United (vs. Leicester City), 3:00 p.m.
Edinson Cavani (Uruguay), Fred (Brazil)

Aston Villa (vs. Wolverhampton Wanderers), 3:00 p.m.
Emiliano Martinez (Argentina), Douglas luiz (Brazil)

Leeds United (vs. Southampton), 3:00 p.m.
Raphinha (Brazil)

Chelsea (vs. Brentford), 5:30 p.m.
Thiago silva (Brazil)


Everton (vs. West Ham United), 2:00 p.m.
Yerry Mina (Colombia)

Tottenham Hotspur (vs Newcastle), 4:30 p.m.
christian romero (Argentina), Young Lo Celso (Argentina), Emerson (Brazil), Davinson sanchez (Colombia)

Newcastle United (against Tottenham), 4:30 p.m.
Miguel almiron (Paraguay)


Elche (vs. Vallecano radius), 1:00 p.m.
Enzo Roco (Chile)

Seville (v. celtic vigo), 3:15 p.m.
Gonzalo montiel (Argentina), Marcos Acuna (Argentina), Alejandro Gomez placeholder image (Argentina)

Atletico Madrid (v. Granada), postponed
Rodrigo De Paul (Argentina), Angel Corréa (Argentina), Luis Suarez (Uruguay)

Granada (vs. Atletico Madrid), postponed
Luis Abram (Peru) Darwin Machis (Venezuela)

Real Madrid (vs. Athletic Bilbao), postponed
Eder Militao (Brazil), Vinicius Junior (Brazil), Federico valverde (Uruguay)

Villarreal (vs. Osasuna), 5:30 p.m.
Juan foyth (Argentina)


The real Betis (vs. Alaves), 6:00 p.m.
German Pezzella (Argentina), Guido Rodriguez (Argentina), Claudio Bravo (Chile)

Cadiz (vs. Spanish), 8:00 p.m.
Santiago arzamendia (Paraguay), Tomas alarcon (Chile)


Inter Milan (vs. Lazio), 5:00 p.m.
Joaquin Corréa (Argentina), Lautaro Martinez (Argentina), Arturo Vidal (Chile), Alexis sanchez (Chile), Neighbor Matias (Uruguay)


Cagliari (vs. Sampdoria), 11:30 p.m.
Diego godin (Uruguay), Martin Caceres (Uruguay), Found Nandez (Uruguay), Gaston Pereiro (Uruguay)

Atalanta (vs. Empoli), 2:00 p.m.
Juan Musso (Argentina)

Genoa (vs. Sassuolo), 2:00 p.m.
Pablo Galdames (Chile)

Udinese (vs. Bologna) 2:00 p.m.
Nahuel Molina (Argentina)

Bologna (vs Udinese), 2:00 p.m.
Nicolas dominguez (Argentina) Gary Medel (Chile)

Turin (vs. Naples), 5:00 p.m.
Antonio Sanabria (Paraguay), Tomas rincon (Venezuela)

Juventus (see Roma), 5:00 p.m.
Danilo (Brazil), Alex Sandro (Brazil), Rodrigo Bentancur (Uruguay)

Rome (v. Juventus), 5:00 p.m.
Matias Vina (Uruguay)


Fiorentina (vs. Venice), 7:45 p.m.
Lucas Martinez Wednesday (Argentina), Nicolas Gonzalez placeholder image (Argentina), Eric Thumb (Chile), Lucas torreira (Uruguay)


Paris Saint Germain (vs. Angers), 8:00 p.m.
Leandro Paredes (Argentina), Angel Di Maria (Argentina), Lionel messi (Argentina), Brands (Brazil), Neymar (Brazil)


Lyonnais (vs Monaco), 8:00 p.m.
Lucas Paqueta (Brazil)

Monaco (v. Lyon), 8:00 p.m.
Guillermo Maripan (Chile)


Saint Etienne (vs. Strasbourg), 2:00 p.m.
Miguel Trauco (Peru)

Lens (vs. Montpellier), 4:00 p.m.
Facundo Medina (Argentina), Wuilker Flour (Venezuela)

Marseilles (vs. Lorient), 7:45 p.m.
Gerson (Brazil)


Bayer Leverkusen (vs. Bayern Munich), 2:30 p.m.
Exequiel Palacios (Argentina), Lucas alario (Argentina)

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