Barcelona Star Not Available For The La Liga Opener Vs Athletic Bilbao: Huge Blow For The Catalans?

BILBAO, SPAIN - FEBRUARY 10: Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona being fouled byu Dani Garcia of Athletic Club during the La Liga match between Athletic Club and FC Barcelona at San Mames Stadium on February 10, 2019 in Bilbao, Spain. (Photo by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images)

In a recent interview before Barcelona’s season opener against Athletic Bilbao at the San Mamés Stadium on Friday night, Ernesto Valverde addressed the media and provided an update on Lionel Messi’s availability when he said (via the Daily Star), “I would love it if Messi was on holiday, but he’s injured.

“I wish we could have him here and count on him for Friday [against Athletic Bilbao] but it’s difficult to see.”

Now that Valverde has confirmed that the Argentine superstar won’t feature against Bilbao, Barca would have to rely on the services of Antoine Griezmann and Luis Suarez to make a difference away at Bilbao later this week. The Catalans need to start their La Liga campaign well if they are to stamp their authority over Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid in the title race next season.

Messi’s Stellar Form In The Spanish Top-Flight Last Season

The 32-year-old enjoyed another productive campaign at the Nou Camp last season when he scored 51 goals and grabbed 22 assists in 50 matches for the Blaugrana across all competitions. His goal-scoring numbers prove how essential he has been for the Catalan giants over the past decade.

There is no doubt that Barca would struggle to earn a positive result at a tough place like Bilbao without the services of Messi. However, Valverde would believe that his team has enough firepower in their arsenal to blow away Gaizka Garitano’s side on the opening night of the new La Liga campaign.

What Does The Argentine Superstar Add To Valverde’s Team?

Messi has blistering pace and is one of the best dribblers with the ball in world football. The Argentine forward can change the outcome of a match on his own as he possesses the ability to conjure up goal-scoring opportunities out of nothing. The Rosario-born sensation will go down in history as one of the greatest, if not the greatest player of all times. 

Messi’s Exclusion Vs Bilbao Due To Injury: Huge Blow For Valverde?

Hence, it won’t be easy for Barca to cope with his absence at the start of the new season. Messi’s unavailability will undoubtedly be a massive blow for the Catalans and their chances of making a winning start to the campaign.

However, the Spanish champions have strengthened wisely over the summer, so the new players like Griezmann and Frenkie de Jong would need to step up and be counted for in the Argentine’s absence.

A 26-year-old sports writer and an aspiring football coach who has road-tripped across the Scottish Highlands, but has never been to Wales. Sucker for cliff-hangers and catchy riffs. Known to be a grunger and not to be a stranger.