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Barcelona News: Ernesto Valverde believes his team need to 'learn to cope' in Lionel Messi's absence

17 Aug 2019, 16:19 IST

FC Barcelona v Tottenham Hotspur - UEFA Champions League Group B
FC Barcelona v Tottenham Hotspur - UEFA Champions League Group B

What's the story?

Following Barcelona's 1-0 loss to Athletic Bilbao in their La Liga opener on Friday, Blaugrana manager Ernesto Valverde has stated that his team need to learn to cope in the absence of their captain Lionel Messi, who was missing from the game, owing to an injury.

In case you didn't know...

Barcelona felt the glaring absence of Messi as they suffered a shock 1-0 defeat to Athletic Bilbao in their opening La Liga fixture on Friday. 

Veteran striker Aritz Aduriz's late goal earned Athletic their first league win over the Catalan giants since 2013. The 38-year-old made an immediate impact off the bench and produced a spectacular overhead kick after meeting Ander Capa's cross in the 89th minute. 

The Catalan giants struggled to impress, despite fielding their new £107 million signing Antoine Griezmann, and lost yet another player to injury as Luis Suarez was taken off after the half-hour mark after picking up a calf injury.

Messi, who was in scintillating form for the Blaugrana last season, was not included in the squad list after suffering a calf injury last week and even missed the team's pre-season tour of the United States.

The heart of the matter

Speaking after the game, Valverde reflected on his side's ability and identity without Messi, telling reporters, via SPORT,

"It’s true we’re used to playing in a way and Leo shines in a lot of situations because he beats a man or filters a pass through.
"We’re not all like him and we have to learn to cope when he’s not there. It’s inevitable to miss him, but we need to do other things too. We have to transform possession into goal chances, that’s what counts."

What's next?

Barcelona will next take on Real Betis at the Camp Nou on 25th August.

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