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Barcelona kick off in Spanish Supercup with Messi as captain

AFP  |  Tangiers 

kick off a new season and a new era when they take on in the Spanish Supercup in on Sunday with newly installed as

Messi has occasionally worn the armband before when Andres Iniesta, who replaced as in 2015, missed a game.

The Argentine has also led his country, with only mixed results.

With Iniesta moving to Japan, Messi takes the job full time starting in Tangiers after Sergi Roberto captained an inexperienced Barca squad during the club's recent tour of the

Messi can eclipse Iniesta in another way in the Supercup, as both have won a club-record 32 trophies with Barca and victory on Sunday would break the tie.

The match marks a break with tradition. Since its return in 1982, the competition has been played over two legs with each team hosting one game.

This season, with in the and keen to play in exhibition tournament in the United States, the Spanish authorities switched to a single-game format.

They also moved the match across this Straits of to Morocco, where Spanish is keenly followed.

Sevilla, who therefore lost an attractive home game against one of Europe's most glamorous teams, protested to no avail.

This week the Spanish authorities made another ruling that helped Barcelona, announcing that the normal restrictions on non-EU players in Spanish games would not apply.

One of Barca's South Americans, Brazilian Philippe Coutinho, obtained his Portuguese passport on Friday, but the decision means that can play three recent major signings Chilean and Brazilians Malcolm and Arthur together.

could also give a debut to Clement Lenglet, a French defender they bought from Sunday's opponent,

The game pits Barca, who won the Spanish double, against the club they thrashed 5-0 in the final of the Copa del Rey and who finished a distant seventh in

Barcelona follow Sunday's game with a home friendly against Boca Juniors on Wednesday before kicking off the defence of their title at home to Alaves next Saturday evening.

Sevilla played on Thursday, beating Zalgiris 1-0 at home in a third qualifying round first-leg game.

After Sunday's match, they must cross to defend that slender lead in next Thursday before kicking off their domestic league campaign at home to Villarreal on Sunday.

"It is more important to progress in the than win the Spanish Super Cup", Joaquin Caparros, Sevilla's

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sat, August 11 2018. 21:06 IST