Oh, international football. It’s always a difficult fortnight when top-flight domestic football is off our screens, but at least there are some World Cup qualification play-offs to get excited about. The final spots in Russia are slowly being taken up, with the play-offs bringing agony and ecstasy to each nation.
In those qualifiers, Croatia flew past Greece with a 4-1 aggregate win, but there was no such luck for Northern Ireland who cruelly went down 1-0 to Switzerland. The outcomes of Sweden vs Italy, Denmark vs Republic of Ireland, Honduras vs Australia and Peru vs New Zealand are yet to be determined. Sweden take a shock 1-0 lead to the San Siro, whereas it's all to play for in Dublin, with Denmark and Ireland producing a 0-0 stalemate. There were no goals either in the inter-confederation play-offs, so expect a cagey 90 or 120 minutes in the second legs.
There were also plenty of friendlies, as countries stepped up their preparation for Russia 2018. With places on the plane available, we look at who took their opportunity, and could earn a spot in the FIFA 18 Team of the Week. TOTW 9 will be available from 6pm GMT on Wednesday, November 15.
Darren Randolph (OVR 74 – 74)
The Republic of Ireland left Denmark with a 0-0 draw thanks to goalkeeper Darren Randolph. The Middlesbrough man ensured that it's now the Irish who have the upper hand heading into the second leg back in Dublin, making five saves in the World Cup qualification play-off first leg. A fine double-save was the highlight for the 30-year-old, and with Randolph in this vein of form, Ireland have every chance of going to Russia.
With the former West Ham man having a maxed-out 74 rating, he won’t improve this week unless he pulls another blinder in the second leg. If so, a purple hero card could be waiting him on Wednesday. Currently, Randolph will cost you 1,400 coins on PS4 and as much as 3,000 on Xbox One. The Republic of Ireland’s second leg vs Denmark is on Tuesday, November 14 at 7:45pm GMT.
Marcelo (OVR 87 – 88)
Brazil took on Japan in Lille, France last week with Selecao running out 3-1 winners. Left back Marcelo got in on the act with a fantastic strike into the top corner, cementing his position in the side ahead of Alex Sandro and Filipe Luis.
With the game only being a friendly, don’t expect Marcelo’s rating to rise too much if selected. We’ve predicted an increase of one to 88 for the Real Madrid star, but another strong performance against England at Wembley could change that. Marcelo is an expensive purchase, setting you back 50,000 coins on PS4 and 42,000 Xbox One.
Andreas Granqvist (OVR 80 – 84)
Sweden produced the result of the week with a 1-0 win at home to Italy, but they know the job is only half done. They were resolute in defence, with Krasnodar man Andreas Granqvist the cornerstone of their defensive line. The centre back had a 95% passing success rate and limited the Azzurri to just one shot on target.
With an in-form already this season, Granqvist will rise to 84 with a second TOTW appearance. His normal 80-rated card costs 650 coins on both consoles, making him a very affordable option. The Sweden-Italy second leg kick off is on Monday, November 13 at 7:45pm GMT.
Ricardo Rodriguez (OVR 81 – 84)
Left back Ricardo Rodriguez was the hero for Switzerland in both legs against Northern Ireland. The AC Milan man scored the crucial penalty in the first leg, before making a late goal-line clearance in the reverse fixture in Basel.
Those vital moments should see Rodriguez in the team of the week, with a rise of three to 84 utterly deserved. The former Wolfsburg player will set you back just 1,100 coins on both consoles.
Jakob Johansson (OVR 74 – 74)
Jakob Johansson grabbed the goal that gave Sweden the 1-0 win over Italy in Stockholm, giving the Swedes the important platform for the second leg. The defensive midfielder’s swinging volley took a wicked deflection to send the ball past Gianluigi Buffon, and give the Italians plenty of work to do.
AEK Athens midfielder Johansson already has a maximum silver rating of 74, so he will need another top performance at the San Siro to get that increase. He will set you back just 650 coins on both consoles in Ultimate Tean.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek (OVR 69 – 73)
With plenty of injuries and manager Gareth Southgate keen to experiment, Ruben Loftus-Cheek was given an England debut against World Champions Germany and didn’t disappoint. The Crystal Palace midfielder was the star performer in the 0-0 draw, producing some neat turns and nutmegs, but he didn’t receive enough support from his teammates.
His man of the match performance at Wembley gives the on loan Chelsea man a fantastic chance of going to Russia and getting into TOTW9. With just a 69 rating at the moment, that should rise to 73 if selected, and the attacking midfielder will currently only cost you 500 coins on PS4 and 700 on Xbox One.
Hirving Lozano (OVR 78 – 84)
Mexico and Belgium produced one of the games of the international break with an enthralling 3-3 draw in Brussels. Mexico winger Hirving Lozano grabbed a brace to give Mexico a positive result ahead of next summer’s World Cup, in which Lozano will surely play a big part.
The PSV man already has one TOTW appearance behind him this season, so a second in-form card could take his 78 rating to 84. That normal rating card will set you back 700 coins on both consoles.
David Silva (OVR 87 – 89)
Spain lined up with Isco, Andres Iniesta, Thiago and David Silva in their midfield, so it was interesting to see which creator would shine the most. That was David Silva who scored twice and grabbed an assist in the 5-0 thrashing of Costa Rica. The Manchester City midfielder looks to have a consistency we haven’t seen since he won the league with City back in 2012, enabling him to star for club and country this season.
Attacking midfielder Silva will switch to right midfield if selected this week, and his overall would rise to 89 having already made an appearance in the team of the week this season. His normal card will cost you just under 29,000 coins on both consoles.
Robin Lod (OVR 73 – 74)
Finland may have missed out on a trip to Russia, but the team gave their nation some confidence ahead of European qualification with a 3-0 victory over Estonia. Robin Lod was the star man, with the Panathinaikos midfielder bagging a brace in Helsinki.
Lod’s 73 rating can only increase by one to 74, but he should move from attacking to left midfielder if selected. His current price is just 650 coins on PS4, but he's going for as much as 1,700 coins on Xbox One.
Romelu Lukaku (OVR 86 – 87)
Hirving Lozano may have been the star for Mexico in the 3-3 draw with Belgium, but it was Romelu Lukaku who grabbed the headlines. The Belgian striker also grabbed a brace, but he equalled the Belgian all-time goalscoring record, an incredible achievement at the age of 24. His 30 goals matches the returns of both Bernard Voorhoof and Paul Van Himst. Can he break the record against Japan on Tuesday?
If you’ve got a Lukaku Ones To Watch card, expect his 86 rating to hop up one to 87 this week. Given his pace (83) and power (84 physicality), the Manchester United striker is an expensive signing on Ultimate Team. You are looking at a price of over 130,000 on PS4 and 120,000 on Xbox One.
Heung-Min Son (OVR 82 – 84)
It’s been a fantastic couple of years for Heung-Min Son at Tottenham, and the 25-year-old is taking his form to the South Korean national team. The left midfielder played up front against Colombia in Suwon, grabbing both his side’s goals in the 2-1 victory. Asian sides have struggled at the World Cup since South Korea got to the semi-finals in 2002, but the class of 2018 could be the dark horses of the tournament.
Expect Son to get an increase of two to 84 if he makes the Team of the Week. The Spurs man currently costs 4,600 coins on PS4 and 4,300 on Xbox One.
RealSport’s TOTW 9 Prediction
Who do you think will make the Team of the Week? Let us know in the comments section below.
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