Barcelona kick-start the new La Liga campaign against Athletic Bilbao on Friday night, with Ernesto Valverde confirming his matchday squad.
The Catalan giants will be hoping to make a winning start to the defence of their crown, as they look to not only win another league title but also make an early statement about their ambitions of winning trophies across the board this season.
Antoine Griezmann, Frenkie de Jong and Junior Firpo were all signed this summer to bolster Valverde’s side, and the trio of new signings all get the nod in the first named squad of the season as seen in the club’s tweet below.
However, there is one major name missing and that is of course Lionel Messi who will play no part as he continues to recover from a calf injury that he suffered during pre-season.
It’s an issue which forced him to miss the latter stages of the preparations for the new campaign, with Marca noting that it’s the first time in 10 years that the Barca talisman will miss the opening game of the season.
The 32-year-old maestro was in sensational form last year, bagging 51 goals and 22 assists in just 50 appearances for the reigning La Liga champions, and so they will certainly miss his presence on Friday night in what could prove to be a tricky first game.
Nevertheless, Valverde will hope that new signings Griezmann, De Jong and Junior Firpo can settle immediately and help his side make a winning start even without their leader, who they will hope can make a full and speedy recovery to return sooner rather than later.
It’s undoubtedly the smart decision to leave him out though as the last thing that they need is to involve him and risk aggravating the problem to see him sidelined for longer.
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) August 15, 2019