Without Lionel Messi, Barcelona stunned by Athletic Bilbao in La Liga opener

Posted 11 months ago by Patrick Munuve | posted in Uncategorized | Post RSS 2.0

(CNN) — Missing Lionel Messi, La Liga champion Barcelona stumbled to a 1-0 defeat by Athletic Bilbao on Friday as the Spanish league season got underway in exciting fashion.
Messi sustained a calf injury during pre-season and without the Argentine, Barca looked fairly ordinary as substitute Aritz Aduriz’s stunning acrobatic volley in the game’s final moments sealed Bilbao’s shock win.
“The competition has placed us in our location,” Barca defender Gerard Pique told reporters. “We weren’t us”
Last year, Barcelona coasted to the La Liga title, dropping only three times and finished 11 points clear from second-place Atletico Madrid. Messi was the leading scorer with 34 goals of the league.
But went right for the Spanish champion on Friday. Barca striker Luis Suarez, who scored 33 goals last season, hit the post in the first half but shortly afterwards limped off with the injury.
“Tests carried out on Saturday morning have confirmed that team participant Luis Su??rez has an injured right wing,” said Barca’s website on Saturday. “His recovery will dictate that his return to action.”
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Frenkie de Jong and Antoine Griezmann made their debuts for Barca, however, it was the 38-year-old Aduriz who delivered the match magnificent finale.
“Sometimes football can be so beautiful,” Aduriz informed reporters. “It will be impossible not to overlook this but everything has a start and an end. I’m incredibly thankful to be able to decide on this end.”
Bilbao, who finished eighth last year, were well worth their triumph with striker Inaki Williams often bothering the Barca defense.
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Meanwhile Barca and Bayern Munich have reached agreement for the transport of Philippe Coutinho into the Bundesliga team.
The 27-year-old Brazil international will initially join to a season-long loan, together with Bayern having an option to make the deal permanent for your 27-year-old forward.
“We’ve watched Coutinho for quite a while. The name doesn’t matter, just the caliber,” Bayern chief Karl-Heinz Rummenigge told the club’s website following the 2-2 draw with Hertha BSC at Friday’s Bundesliga opening game.
“Clearly we still have to finalise some details, but we’re thrilled to be bringing this participant to Bayern,” additional Bayern sporting manager Hasan Salihamidzic.
Coutinho, who combined Barcelona for a reported $170 million in Liverpool at 2018, has struggled to make an impact in Spain after starring in the English Premier League.
He became the third most expensive player in history when he chose to Barcelona.

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