The 2019/20 season of La Liga is set to kick off with Barcelona travelling to San Mames for a crucial opener with Athletic Bilbao. However, the defending champions would be missing the services of Lionel Messi.
Manager Ernesto Valverde confirmed that the team management has decided against taking a risk with Messi in their first match of the season. “We won’t take risks, let alone with Messi,” he said in the pre-match press conference.
This would be the first time after 2009 that the Argentine will not take the field in a La Liga opener for the club. Messi isn’t fully fit having played the Copa America after a long season with Barcelona and the club are in no mood to take a risk.
This would end a 10-year long streak which dates back to the season opener in 2009. With Pep Guardiola at the helm and Messi still nursing an ankle injury, the now-Manchester City manager decided to drop him for the match.
Messi was also set to line up for Argentina against Brazil five days later. The La Liga giants started with Bojan Krkic, Pedro and Zlatan Ibrahimovic as the front three and Barcelona went on to win 3-0. Whether they could manage a repeat of the 2009 performance remains to be seen.