Entering the second and third rounds of qualifying, Bayern Munich's national division will once again have critical matches in country colors, with ramifications both for the team and for themselves. Normally buried in the team, several Bayern players will get the opportunity to shine with their countries. Here is a look at the 10 players on international duty, and how they will fare this week:
Matches: Thurs. @ Moldova; Sun. vs. Montenegro
Bayern Player: David Alaba
The good news for Austria is that Moldova have only beaten Andorra, Saudi Arabia, and Canada in 2014 and have not won at home in 2014. The bad news is that Austria is playing on the road, and they have only won two qualifiers away from home in the past three years. Alaba will likely be very involved in midfield, playing box-to-box as on of their best attackers and defenders.
Matches: Sat. @ Albania; Tues. vs. Portugal
Bayern Player: Pierre-Emile Højbjerg
Højbjerg allowed the Danes to pick up three points against a conservative Armenian team, but the 19-year-old will have to do more than that to continue his side's momentum. Denmark face two critical tests, and it is not out of the realm of possibility that they come away empty from this round of qualifiers. The quality around him is not great, especially with Niklas Bendtner at the top, but Højbjerg has the opportunity to really come into his own in his country's colors.
Matches: Sat. @ Poland; Tues. vs. Republic of Ireland
Bayern Players: Jérôme Boateng, Mario Götze, Thomas Müller, Manuel Neuer
On the back of their World Cup performance, Germany's 2-1 victory over Scotland looks a bit underwhelming. Now their top players are churning back into form, especially their Bayern contingent. Boateng, Götze, and Müller have accounted for nearly half of Bayern's goals this season, becoming more irreplaceable even with stars returning to form. They will try to extrapolate their success against two countries that qualified for the Euros four years ago.
Matches: Fri. vs. Kazakhstan; Mon. @ Iceland
Bayern Player: Arjen Robben
The lift that Robben has given Bayern he will undoubtedly give to the Netherlands. Guus Hiddink desperately needs strong performances out of his side after a 1-2 loss to the Czech Republic deploying similar tactics to his predecessor, Louis van Gaal. Kazakhstan will not be as tough as a test, but 2013 European surprise Iceland might be. Robben's runs with the ball and ability to create space will be paramount against teams that will likely stuff men behind the ball.
Matches: Sat. vs. Germany; Tues. @ Scotland
Bayern Player: Robert Lewandowski
This week will probably be the toughest of qualifiers for Poland. They are a team that seem to be poised to take off – see the 7-0 shellacking of Gibraltar – but cannot do enough to overcome the more historically relevant countries. Robert Lewandowski will have a difficult time going up against a current and former teammate – Boateng and Mats Hummels – in Poland's bout against Germany, and could have similar difficulties with Scotland's respectable central defense. With the lenient qualifying, Poland is still a popular pick to advance, but they do not want to dig a hole early in qualifying that they have to climb out of.
Matches: Thurs. @ Slovakia; Mon. @ Luxembourg
Bayern Player: Juan Bernat
Bernat got his first call-up to the senior squad at the perfect time. The defending European champions are playing two countries that need a lot of things to fall their way to qualify, and the 21-year-old could get a full shift against one of them. As Vicente del Bosque transitions to a younger team, Spain should still not have a problem with these two opponents, even with the above-average defense of Slovakia.
Matches: Thurs. @ Slovenia; Sun. @ San Marino Bayern Player: Xherdan Shaqiri
Switzerland is a club that is trying to come of age, and yet they cannot overcome the difficult tests they face. Their last trip to Slovenia in qualifying was successful, and they will need another to keep pace in the group. The level that Shaqiri's form is at is a mystery considering his lack of minutes with Bayern, but he will once again be the focal point for Vladimir Petković as the 22-year-old tries to re-find it.