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Lionel Messi out of Barcelona’s La Liga clash against Athletic Bilbao

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The captain has not recovered from injury in time

FC Barcelona v Arsenal - Pre-Season Friendly Photo by Jose Breton/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Barcelona will be without captain Lionel Messi for their opening La Liga fixture of the 2019-20 season against Athletic Bilbao on Friday.

The Argentina international has been left out of the squad for the trip to San Mames after failing to fully recover from a calf injury picked up in training.

The injury ruled him out of Barcelona’s pre-season tour of the United States, and although he has returned to training he is not quite ready for Friday’s clash.

Manager Ernesto Valverde said in his pre-match presser that he was not willing to risk Messi, and Barca will have to cope without their talisman as they begin the defence of their title.

Messi’s absence is not too much of a surprise and means we are likely to see a frontline of Luis Suarez, Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Dembele on Friday night.