(Sporting Alert) — Barcelona took an early lead against Hamburg, but the hosts have equalised in their opening pre-season friendly match here on Tuesday.

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Right-back Daniel Alves, who returns from an injury which knocked him out of the Olympic Games, scored the go ahead goal for Barcelona in the 4th minute, as Tito Vilanova looks to begin his official tenure as manager with a victory.

However, Tolgay Arslan leveled thing 16-minutes later for Hamburg.

A number of the club’s top players are still missing in action, including star forward Lionel Messi, who is out because of an injury.

The Argentine captain suffered a calf strain during training and did not travel with the 21-man squad that is here Germany for the friendly.

“I’m sorry for the people of Hamburg who have bought tickets,” Vilanova said of Messi’s absence. “It was a last-minute thing.

“He’s a player who always wants to play and he more than anyone regrets that he is unable to be here. Hopefully he will be back for Saturday.”

Meanwhile, the likes of Alexis Sanchez, Javier Mascherano and Jonathan dos Santos were amongst the starters for Barcelona, but the likes of David Villa, Pedro, Xavi and Andrés Iniesta are missing.

Barcelona starting XI: Pinto, Alves, Bartra, Mascherano, Adriano, Dos Santos, Espinosa, Sergi Roberto, Afellay, Deulofeu and Alexis


Walter Hoyos joins SportingAlert as contributor for Spanish football and the Spain national team. I like to travel, one of the favourite things on my list, but I also like to just spend time with family and friends when I am not covering football games. Hope to dump into some of my readers some day.

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