Barcelona hit by in­juries be­fore opener

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Sport Starts Here -

JAVIER Mascher­ano has joined the queue to the Camp Nou treat­ment room with cham­pi­ons Barcelona hit by a spate of in­juries be­fore they be­gin the new sea­son in La Liga against Betis to­day.

Luis En­rique’s side paid a high price for win­ning the Span­ish Su­per Cup against Sevilla, with cap­tain An­dres Ini­esta and de­fend­ers Jeremy Mathieu and Mascher­ano sus­tain­ing in­juries over the two legs that will keep them out of to­day’s game.

“I’m very happy and sat­is­fied with what I saw on the pitch and the per­for­mances of the play­ers who are join­ing the team. I’m very happy about ev­ery­thing ex­cept Mascher­ano’s in­jury,” said Luis En­rique af­ter Wed­nes­day’s sec­ond leg of the Su­per Cup, as Barca won 3-0 to se­cure a 5-0 ag­gre­gate suc­cess.

Barcelona are also with­out star for­ward Ney­mar, who is at the Olympics, while goal­keeper Marc-An­dre ter Ste­gen is still re­cov­er­ing from a mi­nor knee in­jury.

Mean­while, France in­ter­na­tional Sa­muel Umtiti is in line for his La Liga de­but af­ter im­press­ing against Sevilla and will be paired with Ger­ard Pique.

This could be goal­keeper Clau­dio Bravo’s last game for Barcelona as re­ports suggest he is close to join­ing Manch­ester City, and the Camp Nou is sure to give him a rous­ing send-off for his ser­vices over the past two sea­sons.

Gus Poyet’s Betis have added sev­eral play­ers in the sum­mer, in­clud­ing Roma striker An­to­nio Sanabria, who was on loan at Sport­ing Gi­jon last sea­son.

Real Madrid have to wait un­til to­mor­row to kick off their cam­paign, mak­ing the trip to Anoeta to face Real So­ciedad, which has been a prob­lem­atic venue for La Liga’s top teams in re­cent years.

Coach Zine­dine Zi­dane will be with­out his star player Cris­tiano Ron­aldo, who is still re­cov­er­ing from a knee in­jury suf­fered in Por­tu­gal’s Euro 2016 fi­nal win over France.

Goal­keeper Key­lor Navas is still out in­jured, with Kiko Casilla fill­ing in, al­though bet­ter news comes in the form of Gareth Bale’s re­turn to ac­tion on Mon­day in a friendly against French side Reims.

He is likely to start against La Real, but French hit­man Karim Ben­zema is set to miss out due to a nig­gling hip prob­lem.

Sum­mer sign­ing Al­varo Mo­rata should lead the line, while young­ster Marco Asen­sio may also earn a start af­ter im­press­ing in the Uefa Su­per Cup win over Sevilla.

“He knows what he will have here, and all the play­ers know it, I’m not go­ing to trick any­one. I am go­ing to try and pick the best team pos­si­ble for each game. I have the great squad that we need to have a great sea­son,” said Zi­dane of Asen­sio.

Los Blan­cos are look­ing to win a league ti­tle for the first time since 2012, while their cap­i­tal ri­vals Atletico Madrid will hope to again fea­ture promi­nently.

Diego Sime­one’s men host pro­moted Alaves at the Vi­cente Calderon as they at­tempt to bounce back af­ter a crush­ing de­feat by Real Madrid on penal­ties in the Cham­pi­ons League fi­nal last sea­son.

Atletico have signed Ar­gen­tine mid­fielder Ni­co­las Gai­tan from Ben­fica and French striker Kevin Gameiro from Sevilla, but the big­gest boost for them over the sum­mer was Sime­one’s de­ci­sion to stay in the job.

He had hinted at a de­par­ture af­ter the Cham­pi­ons League fi­nal set­back, say­ing he needed “time to think”.

“I was re­fer­ring to time to think about how I can deal with tak­ing my re­spon­si­bil­i­ties with Atletico Madrid for­ward. If I’d left, I wouldn’t have been able to go with peace of mind. I never said I would leave, just that I needed time to think,” he told Canal Plus.

Malaga and Osasuna got the ac­tion un­der­way yes­ter­day, while eyes will be on Fran Escriba’s Vil­lar­real at Granada to­day.

The Yel­low Sub­ma­rine sacked coach Marcelino just be­fore the sea­son started and lost to Monaco in their Cham­pi­ons League play-off first leg on Wed­nes­day in Escriba’s de­but. — AFP

Javier Mascher­ano

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Zimbabwe

© PressReader. All rights reserved.