Mixed World Cup week for FC Barcelona stars

Marquez and Messi stand out for Mexico and Argentina as Catalan players form part of Spain?s surprise defeat against Switzerland.

Christopher Tulloch

June 18, 2010 08:19 PM

Barcelona (CNA).- From a football point of view, it has been a generally disappointing first week to the South Africa World Cup 2010. As for World Club champions FC Barcelona, their star players have had mixed fortunes none more so than for the six players who took to the field for pre-tournament favourites Spain only to go down to a 0-1 defeat against unfavoured Switzerland in what has been so far the shock result of the competition.

On the positive side, out-of-favour Barça centre-half Rafael Marquez has turned in some of the best international performances of his career in a holding midfield role against hosts South Africa (1-1) and against 2006 World Cup finalists France (2-0). The world’s number one player, Lionel Messi, while still not scoring, has been the architect behind Argentina’s flying start to the competition against Nigeria (1-0) and South Korea (4-1). Barça right-back Dani Alves has had a more modest debut in Brazil’s tight 2-1 victory over underdogs North Korea.

It’s not all been a smooth ride though. France has had a miserable start to their World Cup campaign. Barça striker Thierry Henry came on as a late substitute in France’s dour 0-0 opener against Uruguay and was condemned to the touchline as Les Bleus were defeated 0-2 by Mexico in their second game thanks largely to a penalty given away by Barça left-back Eric Abidal, impeccable all season for the Catalans. Midfielder Yaya Toure also had a discreet game in the Ivory Coast’s scoreless draw against Portugal.

The biggest shock of the tournament so far came in midweek when reigning European Champions Spain were defeated by lowly Switzerland (0-1). In probably the most Catalan- dominated Spanish side in recent memory, Xavi, Puyol, Piqué, Busquets along with other Barça stars such as Andrés Iniesta and Asturian new signing David Villa were powerless to stop the Swiss from going to their first international win over Spain in 18 previous attempts.