Without Lionel Messi, Barcelona stunned by Athletic Bilbao in La Liga opener
(CNN) — Missing Lionel Messi, La Liga champion Barcelona stumbled on a 1-0 defeat by Athletic Bilbao on Friday as the Spanish league season got underway in thrilling fashion.
Messi endured a calf injury through pre-season and with no Argentine, Barca looked fairly ordinary as replacement Aritz Aduriz’s stunning acrobatic volley in the game’s final moments sealed Bilbao’s shock win.
“The contest has placed us at our place,” Barca defender Gerard Pique told reporters. “We weren’t us”
Last season, Barcelona coasted to the La Liga title, losing only three times and completed 11 points clear from second-place Atletico Madrid. Messi has been the leading scorer with 34 goals of the league.
But went right for the champion on Friday. Barca striker Luis Suarez, who scored 33 goals last season, hit the post from the first half but shortly afterwards limped off with the accident.
“Tests carried out on Saturday morning have confirmed that team participant Luis Su??rez has an injured right wing,” said Barca’s site 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, but it had been the 38-year-old Aduriz who delivered the game’s dramatic finale.
“Sometimes football can be so amazing,” Aduriz informed reporters. “It will be impossible not to overlook this but everything has a start and an end. I am incredibly thankful to have the ability to decide on this end.”
Bilbao, who finished eighth last year, were well worth their win with striker Inaki Williams frequently troubling the Barca defense.
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Meanwhile, the Barca and Bayern Munich have reached agreement for the transfer of Philippe Coutinho into the Bundesliga team.
The 27-year-old Brazil global will initially combine on a season-long loan, together with Bayern with an choice to make the deal permanent to your 27-year-old forward.
“We’ve observed Coutinho for quite a while. The title doesn’t matter, only the caliber,” Bayern main Karl-Heinz Rummenigge told the club website following the 2-2 draw with Hertha BSC in Friday’s Bundesliga opening match.
“Clearly we still have to finalise a few details, but we are thrilled to be bringing this participant to Bayern,” added Bayern sporting manager Hasan Salihamidzic.
Coutinho, who joined Barcelona for a reported $170 million from Liverpool in 2018, has fought to make an effect in Spain after filming in the English Premier League.
He became the next most expensive player in history when he chose to Barcelona.
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