2019 COPA Preview: Messi looks to lead Argentina to elusive Gold Cup title

By Donald Oilver May 24, 2019

Argentina and Colombia favourites to advance from Group B.

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  • Barcelona confirm calf injury for Luis Suarez Barcelona confirm calf injury for Luis Suarez

    Luis Suarez is out for an indefinite period after injuring his right calf in Barcelona's LaLiga loss to Athletic Bilbao on Friday, the club have confirmed.

    The 32-year-old striker had to be replaced before half-time at San Mames after receiving treatment following a shot that hit the post.

    Lionel Messi missed the match with a calf issue of his own suffered shortly before Barca travelled to the United States for two friendly matches against Napoli last week.

    Their absences were felt as Ernesto Valverde's men succumbed to a stunning late winner from Athletic veteran Aritz Aduriz.

    "Tests carried out on Saturday morning have confirmed Luis Suarez has an injured right calf," Barca said in a statement.

    "His recovery will dictate his return to action."

    Suarez's early withdrawal was the first time he has been substituted in the first half of a LaLiga game since he joined Barca from Liverpool in 2014.

    The champions suddenly look light on forwards, with Philippe Coutinho set to join Bayern Munich on loan with a view to a permanent deal.

    Antoine Griezmann debuted against Athletic, but Suarez's injury and Coutinho's departure could see Barca ramp up their interest in former player Neymar, who looks increasingly likely to leave Paris Saint-Germain.

  • Aduriz matches Messi feat with sensational winner against Barcelona Aduriz matches Messi feat with sensational winner against Barcelona

    Athletic Bilbao veteran Aritz Aduriz matched a Lionel Messi goalscoring feat with his sensational winner against Barcelona on Friday.

    Aduriz came off the bench in the 88th minute at San Mames and scored a spectacular overhead kick barely 60 seconds later to seal a 1-0 win over the champions.

    It means the 38-year-old, who plans to retire at the end of this campaign, has now scored in 15 consecutive seasons in Spain's top flight, something only Messi has achieved before.

    The Barca captain was missing from this match while he recovers from a calf problem.

    Barca's defeat marked the first time since 2008-09 that the reigning LaLiga champions have lost their opening match of the new season. Back then, Real Madrid lost 2-1 to Deportivo La Coruna.

    It was also Athletic's first victory over Barca in their last 12 meetings, although Ernesto Valverde has now lost five of his six LaLiga away games against his previous club.

  • Griezmann set for Barcelona league debut as Coutinho is absent Griezmann set for Barcelona league debut as Coutinho is absent

    Antoine Griezmann will make his LaLiga debut for Barcelona against Athletic Bilbao on Friday, but Philippe Coutinho is not involved.

    The France international, who joined from Atletico Madrid for €120million in the close season, starts in attack alongside Luis Suarez and Ousmane Dembele at San Mames.

    There is no place in the squad for Coutinho, who continues to be linked with a move away from Barca.

    The latest reports in Spain suggest the Brazil international, also said to have been offered to Paris Saint-Germain as a makeweight in a possible deal for Neymar, could be preparing to travel to Germany to finalise a loan move to Bayern Munich.

    Frenkie de Jong makes his first league outing for Barca and lines up alongside Sergi Roberto and Carles Alena in midfield, while Sergio Busquets, Samuel Umtiti and Ivan Rakitic are named among the substitutes.

    Lionel Messi will not feature due to a calf injury that kept the club captain out of Barca's friendly matches against Napoli in the United States last week.

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