Lionel Messi started on the bench for Barcelona’s 5-2 defeat of Real Betis in Saturday’s La Liga game. It was the first time the Argentinian has been rested by new coach Ronald Koeman. He later came in as a 46th minute substitute for Ansu Fati.
Messi has made a slow start to the season by his own high standards. Until his scoring Barcelona’s fourth goal that initially put score line at 4-2, Messi had not scored from the open game although the 33-year-old had converted five penalties.
Koeman had indicated he would need to rest his captain at some point, especially given Barca’s last six games came in 19 days, and Messi started all of them.
The dip in form comes after Messi’s failed attempt to leave Barcelona last summer.
Koeman’s side sit 12th in La Liga after a disappointing few weeks in the league but have won all three of their group games in the Champions League.