BARÇA MISSING THEIR SUPER STRIKERS FOR CUP
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