Koeman reveals plans for a more defensive Barcelona after pre-season win

Messi starts for Barcelona in first pre-season friendly

Messi, 33, is one of 25 players called up by Ronald Koeman for a friendly against third-division side Gimnastic de Tarragona at the Johan Cruyff Stadium at the Barcelona training ground.

Messi also led the team out wearing the armband after Barcelona had confirmed earlier on Saturday that he will continue as captain this season.

De Jong then entered the pitch at half-time and Philippe Coutinho eventually made the score 3-1 with another penalty.

The Dutchman lined up with a 4-2-3-1 system with two holding midfielders, a shape rarely used by Barca coaches in the past.

He did not turn up for a scheduled Covid-19 test ahead of the squad's return to pre-season training - but after giving an interview to Goal in which he revealed he would stay rather than get into a court battle over the contract clause, he rejoined the squad on Monday.

'I think this team can do it because we have midfielders to play like that.

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"The most important thing is that fortunately there have been no injuries".

Messi played 45 minutes as part of Koeman's plan to field two different line-ups in each half.

"We showed good levels of intensity in spells, and although there are things we can improve in we are happy".

"What we want to do right now is focus on our fitness and then over the next two weeks focus on more tactical questions". We only have four weeks, not six.

Messi's relationship with Bartomeu has fractured since last season and the Argentina captain even blasted the Barca president for not staying true to his word.

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