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 since the Spanish league season got underway in exciting fashion.
Messi endured a calf injury through pre-season and without the Argentine, Barca looked fairly regular as substitute Aritz Aduriz’s stunning acrobatic volley in the game’s final moments sealed Bilbao’s shock triumph.
“The contest has placed us at our place,” Barca defender Gerard Pique told Bloomberg. “We were not us.”
Last year, Barcelona coasted into the La Liga title, dropping only three times and completed 11 points clear from second-place Atletico Madrid. Messi was the top scorer with 34 goals of the league.
But little went right for the Spanish champion on Friday. Barca striker Luis Suarez, who scored 33 goals last season, hit the pole from the first half but shortly afterwards limped off with an injury.
“Tests carried out on Saturday morning have confirmed that team player Luis Su??rez has an injured right wing,” said Barca’s site on Saturday. “His comeback will soon dictate his return to action.”
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Frenkie de Jong and Antoine Griezmann made their debuts for Barca, however, it had been the 38-year-old Aduriz who delivered the game’s magnificent finale.
“Sometimes soccer can be so beautiful,” Aduriz told reporters. “It will be impossible not to miss this but what has a beginning and an end. I am incredibly thankful to have the ability to select this end.”
Bilbao, who finished eighth last season, were well worth their triumph with striker Inaki Williams often bothering the Barca defense.
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Meanwhile Barca and Bayern Munich have reached agreement for the transfer of Philippe Coutinho to the Bundesliga team.
The 27-year-old Brazil global will initially combine to a season-long loan, even with Bayern with an choice to make the deal permanent to the 27-year-old forward.
“We have watched Coutinho for quite a while. The title doesn’t matter, only the quality,” Bayern chief Karl-Heinz Rummenigge told the club’s website after the 2-2 draw with Hertha BSC at Friday’s Bundesliga opening match.
“Clearly we have to finalise a few details, but we are delighted to be bringing this participant to Bayern,” added Bayern sporting manager Hasan Salihamidzic.
Coutinho, who joined Barcelona for a reported $170 million in Liverpool in 2018, has fought to make an impact in Spain after starring in the English Premier League.
He became the next most expensive player ever when he chose to Barcelona.

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