Valverde still amazed by Barcelona ace

Adrien Rabiot

Adrien Rabiot

Argentina interim coach Lionel Scaloni has explained why he made a decision to leave out FC Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi for next month's worldwide friendlies.

Messi, who saw his Argentina side fail to make an impact at the World Cup in Russian Federation, returned to club action in a determined mood and rattled the crossbar with a first-half free-kick.

Barca coach Ernesto Valverde brought on Coutinho at the start of the second half for Nelson Semedo, dropping Sergi Roberto from midfield to defence to give the team more creativity in a bid to open up the stubborn Basque side.

"Messi is a genius", Valverde told a news conference.

The free kick goal was Barcelona's 6000th La Liga goal.

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"We started a year ago with this midfield and it has great strength".

On Mess, he added: "In these type of games you always expect Leo to do something and he did it".

Another start to a La Liga campaign and another Lionel MESSI goal or in this case two.

Messi will hope to lead Barcelona to more silverware this season, while his perennial battle with Cristiano Ronaldo will have to take place exclusively in Europe after the Portuguese forward left Real Madrid for Juventus.

Celta Vigo were held to a 1-1 draw by Espanyol, while on Friday Levante pulled off a surprise 3-0 win at Real Betis.

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