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.
SQUAD— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) August 15, 2019
This is the first list for our La Liga debut! pic.twitter.com/zH7r3jSF2n
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.
Beware @LaLiga defences, Leo Messi is aiming to come back stronger than ever pic.twitter.com/Pc0VvEhxsG— OTRO (@OTRO) August 15, 2019
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.