La Liga

Messi doubtful for Barcelona opener

FOX Soccer News: Lionel Messi welcomes Neymar to Barcelona.
FOX Soccer News: Lionel Messi welcomes Neymar to Barcelona.
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Barcelona are concerned over the fitness of Lionel Messi ahead of Sunday's season-opening Primera Division meeting with Levante.

The 26-year-old did some special rehabilitation exercises in the gym at the Ciutat Esportiva training complex on Wednesday with Barca physio Juanjo Brau, designed to help him recover from his quadriceps injury.

The Argentina star had flown back from Rome before his country's 2-1 friendly victory over Italy and, in a statement on their official website, Barca insisted they will not be talking any risks in rushing Messi back for the Levante match this weekend.

Also announced on Thursday, Barcelona captain Carles Puyol has begun his recovery following knee surgery as he took to the training pitch on Wednesday. The 35-year-old Barca veteran, who underwent an operation to have a Baker's cyst removed from his right knee in June, was put through his paces at the Ciutat Esportiva, working alongside club physio Juanjo Brau.

Puyol missed the preseason Asia tour to concentrate on his recovery and fitness - after what was his sixth operation as a professional - and yesterday was working on his strength and resistance as he aims to make his comeback as soon as possible for the defending champions.

With last season having been completely dominated by the big two - Barcelona racking up an incredible tally of 100 points and Real Madrid, despite numerous reported problems, finishing second with 85 - both will want to hit the ground running.

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