Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FOOTBALL -

MADRID: Barcelona will go into the first leg of the Span­ish Su­per Cup to­mor­row against Ath­letic Bil­bao without any of their firstchoice strik­ers.

Lionel Messi, Thierry Henry and Zla­tan Ibrahi­movic are all car­ry­ing slight in­juries, and will prob­a­bly not be risked by coach Josep Guardi­ola.

Messi pulled a mus­cle in his right calf whilst train­ing with Ar­gentina on Tues­day, Henry has pain in both heels, and Ibrahi­movic is still not ready to make his Barca de­but be­cause of the bro­ken bone in his left hand.

In ad­di­tion, play­maker An­dres Ini­esta has hardly played since May be­cause of mus­cle prob­lems, and may be kept on the bench.

Cata­lan daily Sport said this week “th­ese in­juries might make Guardi­ola see that his squad is a lit­tle thin.”

So far, Barça have only signed Ibrahi­movic and left-back Maxwell, both from In­ter Mi­lan.

Guardi­ola will have to start in Bil­bao with youngsters Bo­jan Kr­kic and Pe­dro Dominguez up front.

The Su­per Cup is the tra­di­tional cur­tain-raiser to the sea­son, played be­tween league cham­pi­ons and cup win­ners.

Barça pulled off an un­prece­dented “tre­ble” of Liga, cup and Cham­pi­ons League last sea­son. Bil­bao go into the Su­per Cup be­cause they reached the cup fi­nal – for the first time since 1985 – where they were thrashed 4-1.

“We are looking for­ward to fac­ing them again,” said Bil­bao coach Joaquin Ca­parros. “They re­ally took us apart in the cup fi­nal,” he added, “but I have the feel­ing that this will be a dif­fer­ent kind of match.”

Mid­fielder Car­los Gurpegui said that “we might have an ad­van­tage, be­cause we have al­ready played two of­fi­cial matches.”

He was re­fer­ring to the Europa League pre­lim­i­nary round clash against Swiss side Young Boys, which Bil­bao won on away goals.

In the sec­ond leg against Young Boys, 16-year-old Iker Mu­nain be­came the youngest player ever to score for Bil­bao. He will prob­a­bly be on the bench to­mor­row, wait­ing for Ca­parros to give him his chance against Barca. – Sapa-dpa

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