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Manchester City Players on International Duty: Five Things We Learned

A look at the past two weeks.

Germany v Belgium - International Friendly Photo by Joris Verwijst/ BSR Agency/Getty Images

1. Man City Players the Bedrock of England

England had a successful international break with back-to-back wins against Italy and Ukraine but one thing was clear in the course of the two games; Manchester City players remain the bedrock of the team.

Gareth Southgate started four Man City players in his first XI against the Italians and later switched Jack Grealish for Phil Foden towards the end of the game. Although the team had to hold on firmly to secure a narrow 2-1 victory, City's contingent played a key role in the victory.

John Stones featured alongside Kyle Walker in the defence while Kalvin Phillips was afforded enough game time in midfield. Grealish completed the quartet as a winger. Although the record signing for City missed a sitter against Italy that could have helped quiet his critics, all the players gave a good account of themselves.

2. Riyad Mahrez Still Algeria's Captain Fantastic

Captain fantastic, Riyad Mahrez has been the main man for Algeria for several years now. The City winger was on hand during the international break to help his country secure qualification for the next African Nations Cup tournament.

A goal and an assist in the two games played during the break show just how central he is to the performance of the Desert Foxes. With Phil Foden now sidelined Guardiola will turn to the winger to help fill up any gap in the City attack.

3. Rodri Now Key Man for Club and Country

Spain may not have the star power of previous years where the likes of Xavi Hernandez, Andres Iniesta and David Villa ruled the football world. But new coach Luis de la Fuente has started on a sound footing to build from where former manager Luis Enrique left off.

During the international break La Roja squared off against Norway who were missing a certain Erling Haaland. Normally the visitors will find it an uphill task securing a victory at the Spaniards' backyard. The absence of their starman made the task even more difficult for the Norwegians.

Although the game turned out not as easy as could have been expected early on, things changed quickly towards the end of the game as Spain secured a comfortable 3-0 victory.

Manchester City midfielder Rodri was in the thick of the action. The defensive midfielder finished the game wearing The captain's armband as he led his team to another victory on the road to the European Championships.

Ever-present in the City lineup this season, the 25-year-old has been one of Guardiola's go-to men for the campaign. As the season begins to wind down he will be expected to play a key role in helping City end on a strong note.

One thing was made clear during the international break is the fact that he has become a key player both for club and country. Unfortunately, he couldn't help Spain avoid a surprise defeat against Scotland. But that doesn't take anything away from his increasing influence in the team.

4. Norway Need Erling Haaland as much as Manchester City Do

Norway suffered a 3-0 defeat in their first game during the break. The team was clearly missing star man Erling Haaland who withdrew from the squad due to injury. With six shots in the game and two on target, the Lions failed to find the back of the net.

Facing lowly ranked Georgia in the next game, the team battled to a 1-1 draw. The struggle to put the ball in the net despite having 17 shots on target and six on target revealed just how much the team needs the 22-year-old.

Manchester City will be happy to have the striker feature against Liverpool upon resumption of the league. The team is now very reliant on his goals, and they'll be needed to overtake Arsenal at the end of the campaign.

5. International Break Bitter Sweet

After the disappointment that greets the arrival of the international break when fans realise there will be no league football for the better part of two weeks, most quickly switch allegiance to their national teams.

Most countries experience mixed results with some fans in ecstasy while others suffer pain. The Three Lions enjoyed the former emotion while less endowed countries had to put up with the usual heavy defeats at the hands of their more illustrious opponents.

For the players, the joy of playing and winning with the national team is sometimes immeasurable. But so is the pain of losing or worse still returning to their club sides injured.

Fortunately for City, no players returned from the break with serious injuries like in some previous breaks. But the likes of Nathan Ake, Erling Haaland and Rodri saw their teams suffer painful defeats while some other players like the England and Portugal contingents enjoyed pure bliss.