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Messi scored twice against Club Leon in the Gamper / PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ-FCB

Exactly 99 days have passed since Barça missed out on the Liga title by a solitary goal, and now it’s time to start all over again from the beginning. The Camp Nou will be venue for a game with Elche, the same team that held the Catalans 0-0 in the penultimate match of last season, a result that meant that Atlético would only need to draw with Barça on the final day to clinch the title.

But there have been a lot of changes to both teams since then, and new Barça manager Luis Enrique has no fewer than eight new additions to his squad (Masip, Ter Stegen, Bravo, Mathieu, Vermaelen, Rafinha, Rakitic and Suárez). The team seems to be coming into this new campaign with renewed spirits, and after a trophy-less 2013/14 season, the players are confident that they can get back to their winning ways.

Four debutants

There may be eight new faces in the FCB team, but only four of them will be able to make their debuts tonight at the Camp Nou. Ter Stegen and Vermaelen are both injured, Suárez is suspended, and only one of Bravo or Masip will be able to play in goal, one of the big unanswered questions about Luis Enrique’s plans. Pedro is also a doubt after he only returned to training on Saturday after battling all week with gastroenteritis, and Neymar picked up a minor ankle sprain in training on Friday. However, Luis Enrique commented on Saturday that he still hopes both players will be ready in time.

New-look Elche

Like Barça, Sunday’s opponents have also seen a number of changes over the close season. Fran Escribà is still in charge, but the club has lost all of Carles Gil, Boakye, Javi Márquez and Botía, while bringing in two familiar faces in La Liga, Adrián (Rayo) and Mosquera (Getafe), as well as foreign imports Jonathas (Latina), Pasalic (Hajduk Split) and Faycal (Caen).


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