The Barcelona team sheet on Saturday had a shocking omission, as club captain Lionel Messi found his name on the bench instead of the starting XI. The Barcelona legend has started every La Liga game for the Catalans under Ronald Koeman but was benched for the game against Real Betis at the Camp Nou.
While there were suggestions that Lionel Messi could be injured, those fears were eased swiftly by Barcelona's assistant manager Alfred Schreuder, who admitted that the Argentine had played too many games already this season.
"Messi? If someone isn't fresh, he starts on the bench. He has played many consecutive games."
Barcelona captain Lionel Messi benched for the first time in over a year
In Lionel Messi's absence, Ansu Fati, Ousmane Dembele and Antoine Griezmann lead the line for Barcelona, while teenage sensation Pedri was stationed as a #10. The last time Barcelona started a game with Lionel Messi on the bench was in September 2019, when Ernesto Valverde's side were beaten 2-0 by Granada.
The Argentine has not been at his best this season and is yet to score from open play in all competitions. Lionel Messi, however, is still one of the best players in the world and is expected to return to his best in the coming weeks.
Here are the best Tweets after the Barcelona team sheet was released with Lionel Messi on the bench.