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Team News: Thomas Vermaelen starts for Barcelona against Athletic Bilbao

Thomas Vermaelen replaces Gerard Pique in the centre of Barcelona's defence in the La Liga opener against Athletic Bilbao.

Thomas Vermaelen has replaced Gerard Pique in the centre of defence for Barcelona in the La Liga opener against Athletic Bilbao.

The former Arsenal man is preferred to Marc Bartra in the centre of Luis Enrique's defence as a result of Pique's red card in the Spanish Super Cup defeat to Bilbao earlier this month, with Jeremy Mathieu also suspended.

Rafinha will play alongside Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez up front with Neymar still absent after suffering from mumps, while Jordi Alba has shaken off a knock to start.

For the home side, Aritz Aduriz starts in attack, fresh from scoring four goals over the two legs against Barca, while Javier Eraso also starts after impressing in the Europa League.

Athletic Bilbao: Iraizoz; De Marcos, Balenziaga, Laporte, Elustondo; Benat, Rico, Eraso, Susaeta; Aduriz, Sabin Merino
Subs: Boveda, Ibai, Iago Herrerin, Gurpegi, Viguera, Lekue, Aketxe

Barcelona: Bravo; Alves, Mascherano, Vermaelen, Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta; Messi, Suarez, Rafinha
Subs: Ter Stegen, Bartra, Munir, Sandro, S. Roberto, Camara, Gumbau

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The Barcelona team celebrate victory with the trophy after the UEFA Champions League Final between Juventus and FC Barcelona at Olympiastadion on June 6, 2015
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