Messi, Coutinho left out of Barcelona starting team against Sundowns

Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi and his Barcelona teammates touched down in South Africa on Wednesday morning, stoking excitement across the country's football fraternity ahead of a friendly match against Mamelodi Sundowns.

South Africans thronged to Soccer City stadium on a cold night to see world superstar Lionel Messi and their wishes were granted when he came off the bench on 74 minutes.

The only first-team players not to travel to South Africa are defenders Samuel Umtiti and Thomas Vermaelen, who are both injured.

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Messi was then introduced but was a spectator as Sibusiso Vilakazi pulled one back for Sundowns, getting the better of Jasper Cillessen after managing to stay onside.

"So, they were enthusiastic and I think that they had several opportunities".

Dembele, Suarez and Gomes all took advantage of defensive errors, with Dembele curling a left-foot shot into net in the third minute and Suarez doubling the lead in the 18th minute.

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Barcelona conclude their domestic campaign against Real Sociedad at the Nou Camp on Sunday.

Without him, the Blaugrana lost away to Levante, a result which ended their unbeaten run in La Liga.

Barcelona: 1 Marc-André ter Stegen 2 Nelson Semedo 4 Ivan Rakitic 5 Sergio Busquets 6 Denis Suarez 8 Andres Iniesta (captain) 9 Luis Suarez 11 Ousmane Dembele 19 Lucas Digne 24 Yerry Mina 26 Carles Alena.

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