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Madrid: Barcelona made a nightmare start to the defence of their LaLiga title on Friday by losing Luis Suarez to injury and then losing 1-0 to Athletic Bilbao, after a sensational late volley from substitute Aritz Aduriz.
Luis Suarez hobbled off in the 37th minute with what looked like a calf injury before Aduriz came on in the 88th, the 38-year-old striker who has announced he will retire at the end of the season.
Athletic Bilbao’s Aritz Aduriz celebrates after scoring the winner against Barcelona. Reuters/Vincent West
This was a spectacular start to the finale as Aduriz threw himself into the air and acrobatically volleyed past Marc-Andre ter Stegen to send San Mames wild on LaLiga’s opening night.
“The competition has put us in our place,” said Gerard Pique afterwards. “We were not us.”
Barcelona were already without Lionel Messi, who sustained a calf injury during pre-season, and before kick-off confirmed they were about to lose Philippe Coutinho, a loan deal “agreed in principle” with Bayern Munich, according to the club’s director Guillermo Amor.
Suarez will undergo tests on Tuesday to diagnose the length of his absence but Messi’s return, and perhaps negotiations for Paris Saint-Germain striker Neymar, might assume added urgency during his absence.
Antoine Griezmann will be expected to step up too but after joining from Atletico Madrid in July, he endured an underwhelming debut. Coutinho is evidence of the need for time to adjust.
Bilbao, who finished eighth last season, held Barca to a goalless draw in February and they were good value for another point until Aduriz intervened.
He has scored more than 200 goals in his 20-year career but perhaps none as memorable as t
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