Barcelona begin their 2019-20 La Liga campaign against Athletic Bilbao on Friday night, but will be without Lionel Messi for the first match for the first time since 2009.
Messi is recovering from calf strain and will not be at risk, which means Barça will have to do without a player who has scored 14 goals in the last nine seasons, including five brackets and a hat trick.
Ernesto Valverde will hope his side can replicate what Pep Guardiola's men did in 2009, when Messi was still recovering from an ankle injury, but his teammates recorded a 3-0 victory over Sporting Gijon. Here are the XI players who started on this occasion.
Valdez started all 38 La Liga games in 2009-10 and conceded only 24 goals, 10 less than second-placed Real Madrid. Los Blancos actually scored four more goals, but in a narrow season, solved by just three points, Barca's strong record proved decisive.
Valdez will remain at Camp Nou until January 2015 when he reunites with Luis van Gaal at Manchester United for an unlucky 18-month spell that saw him play only twice and be loaned to Standard Liège.
Alves scored two of his three goals against Gijon and would finish the season with three goals and 11 assists in 29 Liga appearances.
He stayed until 2016 before spending a season in Juventus, two in Paris Saint-Germain, and then returned home to Brazil to sign for his boys club Sao Paulo in August 2019. He decided to take his T-shirt 10 …
Kaka hands over a 10 ри shirt
Messi "good luck" message to her
Many fireworks 🎉
Danny Alves received the hero's greetings on his transfer to Sao Paulo pic.twitter.com/lR3Pgdq9QK
– Eurosport UK (@Eurosport_UK) August 7, 2019
This will be Puyol's final season before his injuries and age begin to diminish. He has played in all but six La Liga games, plus 16 more in cup competitions, but next year only appeared 17 times in the league.
Yet he remained a power figure whenever he was fit, until he eventually hung his boots at the end of the 2013-14 season with two years left of his contract, finally accepting defeat in his battle with injuries.
At this point Pique had only one season in Barcelona under his belt. He is now 11 and will certainly again be a key figure in defense in 2019-20.
A summer signing from Inter, Maxwell was the second choice behind Eric Abidal, but he actually made eight more appearances in La Liga this season after the Frenchman was injured
Currently PSG's assistant athletic director, Maxwell was the most decorated active footballer in Europe at the time of his retirement, winning nine trophies in Barcelona alone.
Busquets emerged from the back of his breakthrough season, which ended with a start in the Champions League final victory over Manchester United.
He firmly established himself as the first choice as a state midfielder in 2009-10, starting 33 of 38 La Liga matches, and this is a position he never seems to back down from.
I'll sit with Kate
It was the start of the second of four seasons for Kate in Barcelona before leaving for Dalian Erbin in the 2012 Chinese Super League.
The Mali midfielder was rarely one of Nou Camp's most famous players at the time, but he was a firm trust in Pep Guardiola, making 188 appearances over those four years, including more than any other outfielder in 2010-11.
He scored one and set another against Gijon.
We couldn't sum up Javi's genius and the contribution he made to Barcelona, but 16 assists in La Liga this season – four more than Messi – give little hint.
What we can tell you is that we still cannot overcome the fact that Xavi joined Al Sad in 2015 and played four more seasons before hooking up his boots and then taking over as manager.
He also won the lottery …
READ: Trying to find out how Xavi ended up winning the Qatar lottery
Bojan was a phenomenon in the Barcelona youth teams and broke Messi's record as the youngest player to play for the first time when he made his debut at 17 years and 19 days in 2007, but by the time he played at Gijón it was probably clear to most he wasn't really the new Messi.
However, he scored in this game and made a total of 163 appearances for Barça before gradually starting to climb down the last one who saw him play for Roma, Ajax, Stoke City, Mainz, Alaves and now Montreal Impact.
Another summer signing from Inter, Ibrahimovic set the record as the first player to score in his first five games in La Liga, but ended the season with a modest 16 goals and, more precisely, failed to hit him with Guardiola.
"If Ibra and I only talked twice in six months, there's a reason, but it's better for the club if I don't talk about it," the boss said.
Unsurprisingly, Ibrahimovic left Nou Camp just one season later, joining Milan on a loan that later became permanent.
At that point, he sparingly introduced himself to the first team, Pedro was promoted for the 2009-10 season, scoring 23 goals in 52 appearances in all competitions.
He became the first player to score in six different club competitions in the same season and year, but never scored so much in one Catalan campaign.
However, he continued to play regularly for five more seasons until joining Chelsea in 2015. Now 32 and starting his fifth season at Stamford Bridge, he is sure to play a key role for Frank Lampard's country in 2019 -20 after leaving Eden danger.
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