All eyes will be on Lionel Messi Sunday when Barcelona visit Sevilla for the first leg of the Spanish Super Cup - and not only because of his excellent pre-season form.
Messi raised eyebrows in the Camp Nou Wednesday with his new-look dyed blond hair. Maybe his new image is part of a campaign to get over his latest disappointment with Argentina - another defeat in the final of the Copa America against Chile in June.
The Barca megastar seems to be firm in his decision not to play for his coungtry again, despite the efforts Thursday of new Argentina coach Edgardo Bauza to persuade Messi to return to the fold.
On Wednesday Bauza saw Messi score two goals and set up the other one in the 3-2 friendly defeat of Sampdoria.
"Messi looks different now and seems even more determined than ever to do well for Barca," commented Catalan radio RAC1.
Which could be bad news for Sevilla, who are still licking their wounds after Tuesday's agonizing late 3-2 defeat against Real Madrid in the UEFA Super Cup showpiece in Norway.
"It was great to see the team play like that against Real Madrid, with so much enthusiasm and clarity," said Sevilla's new Argentine coach Jorge Sampaoli.
"The result was a disappointment, of course. But I am taking a lot of positives from that game."
For the first leg in Sevilla's Estadio Sanchez Pizjuan, the hosts will be without injured defender Nico Pareja, which will open the door for Adil Rami.
Daniel Carrico and Vicente Iborra are also doubtful after taking heavy knocks Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Barca will be without goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen, who suffered a twisted left knee in training Thursday and will be out for around three weeks.
Ter Stegen's injury is good news for Chilean veteran Claudio Bravo, who was worried about the young German taking over his position as Barca's number one between the sticks.
On the Barca subs bench, hoping to make his official debut, will be midfielder Denis Suarez, who did so well while on loan at Sevilla two years ago.
"I have great memories of my team at Sevilla," the promising Suarez said.
"But now I am a Barca player and I want to help the team in any way I can.
"We are really looking forward to the Super Cup, because it is the first chance for us to win a trophy this season...It will be important for us to score at least one goal, and if possible win, in the first leg on Sunday."
Saturday, October 15, 2016 - 18:08
Thursday, August 18, 2016 - 00:52