What Luis Suarez's Return Means To Barcelona


However you might rank them, at least five of the 10 best players in the world have played for Barcelona or Real Madrid this season. They are, in no particular order: Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, James Rodriguez, Neymar and Gareth Bale.

When Luis Suarez returns, make it six.

The Uruguayan forward made the switch to Barcelona this summer from Liverpool after the World Cup, where Suarez bit Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini and earned himself a ban from all meaningful soccer from the summer until now.

His first game back was always going to be against Madrid. You see, Suarez has a flair for the dramatic, for better or for worse. At his worst, he's biting defenders or kicking out at them, petulant and ugly. At his best, Suarez is a constant thorn in opposing defenders' sides, always putting pressure on them and trying the runs and shots they don't expect.

In other words, Suarez brings something that will make Barcelona exponentially more dangerous.

Suarez is usually the first line of defense against a team bringing the ball out of defense, making every pass harder for defenses. He created a lot of chances for Liverpool during his tenure there just by being a pain in the ass. The pressure he creates against defenders led them into stray passes or often giving the ball straightaway to Suarez. If Suarez can replicate that defensive effort for Barcelona, Neymar and Messi will benefit hugely.

This kind of move happened often for Liverpool last season with Daniel Sturridge and the rest of his teammates. Suarez would latch on to a ball or help cause a turnover, and red shirts would stream forward. It's a dangerous move because the defense is going to be out of position. Now imagine La Liga defenses out of position against Suarez with Neymar and Messi sprinting at them. It's so, so unfair.

But that's only half of the story. Even when defenses are set, they're going to have a devil of a time against Suarez with the ball at his feet because he threatens the goal but is always looking to set his teammates up at the same time.

In the video above, look at how many times Suarez can beat his man and then find a killer pass to set up his Liverpool teammates. He's often in the 18-yard box with defenders in close proximity, but he's picking up his head and finding the right pass. Again, these passes are going to be going to players better than anyone else in this video when Suarez steps onto the field at Barcelona.

What will be interesting with Suarez at Barcelona is how he'll work with Messi. There aren't many players who can run at defenders with the ball and maintain possession like Messi and Suarez. Also, they're both unfairly good at quick-touch passes that can beat defenses playing them tight.

Add that to Neymar. If they play in the right formation, it'll be Suarez and Neymar with Messi sitting just behind them. Those are three of the best five players in the world occupying the same space, and they're all threats to score or set one another up.

Of course, there's one huge caveat: Suarez can't do anything crazy again. He's said he won't, but he said that before this summer, too.

If he can keep his composure, Barcelona will have the most potent offense ever assembled in the history of club soccer.

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