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Lionel Messi benched against Real Betis due to minor ankle discomfort

Udhav Arora

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Photo by LLUIS GENE / AFP

As Barcelona announced the lineup to take on Real Betis in gameweek 9 of the La Liga, Culés saw one name missing in the list that shocked them. It was, of course, captain and talisman Lionel Messi, who had been replaced by Ousmane Dembele in the starting XI.

The 33-year-old has been benched ahead of this fixture and according to TV3, the decision to leave him out stems from some discomfort in his ankle.

On the contrary, Barcelona have reported to RAC1 that the exclusion of Messi is due to technical reasons and not due to an injury concern – probably to allow some rest before the International break.

Messi has played every minute of the last 37 La Liga games in a row, starting from September 2019 against Getafe. The last time he was benched in the league was against Granada – when he had just returned from a two-month-long injury.

Not only that, but Messi has also played every single minute in all competitions since the season started, including the international break when he played against Bolivia and Ecuador for the CONMEBOL World Cup qualification.

The last time the #10 played in a game and was subbed off before the 90th minute mark was against Villarreal in September 2019, when a injury forced him off for Ousmane Dembele at the half-time mark.

With the international break looming large, it might be in the best interest of Barcelona to let their captain stay back and not join Argentina in the national camp.

Editor-in-Chief. | I have devoted my life to two arts — photography and writing. They say a picture says a thousand words, but my idea is to click it and then write a thousand words about it myself.

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Koeman’s press conference ahead of Sevilla clash ends prematurely due to a nosebleed

Udhav Arora

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Photo via Imago

As Barcelona gear-up to take on Sevilla in gameweek 25 of La Liga, Ronald Koeman sat down to address the media as part of his pre-game press conference. However, his presser was interrupted, and consequently ended prematurely due to a nosebleed the Dutchman suffered while speaking. This is the second time this is happening this season, with the first incident occurring before the Athletic Bilbao game last month. It comes possibly as a result of the blood thinners he takes after suffering from heart problems last year, as has been reported by Javi Miguel.

Before the presser was halted, Koeman spoke about how the two consecutive games against Sevilla are different from one another, saying “There are two different games. Tomorrow we play for La Liga, and Wednesday for the Copa del Rey. We have to win both games and we hope to continue our unbeaten streak in the league tomorrow.”

As part of merry news, Ronald Araujo has entered the squad list for the first time in five games after suffering an ankle injury against Real Betis. Koeman addressed his inclusion in the presser, saying, “Araújo has entered the list and everyone who enters the list has options to play. We’ll decide our XI tomorrow.”

Koeman clearly holds the young defender in high praise, and complimented him in today’s presser as well, saying, “Araújo has had a very good season so far. He’s young, but he has learned and shown a lot. He has a great physique level, he’s strong and fast, and he brings us many things defensively.”

The topic surrounding Barcelona’s lack of leadership came up yet again, despite there being several veteran players in the side. Koeman singled out Lionel Messi again, while calling for contribution from others: “Veteran players have tried to take control, but they can’t do it alone either. Messi has 17-18 goals, the same as everyone else put together. Responsibility must be shared.”

“I know that being a Barça coach there is always a lot of pressure. If you don’t win, it’s the manager’s mistake. I don’t know what could happen in the future, there is time to talk about that, but I’m optimistic,” Koeman said in regards to how he feels about his future as a Barcelona coach with the elections nearby.

The last thing Koeman talked about was voting in the elections before rushing out of the room. He said, “The elections? I will not vote because I think I don’t have to vote. I have to wait, and the socios will decide.”

Source: BarçaTV+

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