Suarez ends drought to boost Barcelona but Messi fitness fears persist

  • 6 months   ago
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The Uruguay striker scored his first Champions League goal this season in an ultimately routine win, although concerns remain over his fellow forward

It was a straightforward victory in the end for Barcelona. In what was something of a flat atmosphere at Camp Nou, the Blaugrana beat Roma 4-1 to take a significant step towards the Champions League semi-finals. But the result was much better than the scoreline suggests.

 

 

A bizarre Daniele De Rossi own goal gave Barca the lead in a somewhat subdued first half and even though Ernesto Valverde's men moved into a commanding lead after another own goal and a Gerard Pique effort from close range, this was a performance that owed more to effectiveness than excellence.

Indeed, when Edin Dzeko goal pulled a goal back late on, it did not even look like a great result. Luckily, Luis Suarez struck to make it 4-1 after that and the Catalans should have few problems in the return match in Rome next week.

Five of Barca's goals in the Champions League this season have been own goals, but Suarez has had to wait patiently for his first in the competition. The Uruguayan has been scoring freely in La Liga, but had not netted in Europe since the famous 6-1 win over Paris Saint-Germain at Camp Nou last term.

That hoodoo is now over and the second leg is surely something of a formality after this win, but Barcelona will need to be better than this to have a chance of winning Europe's most coveted trophy for the first time since their treble triumph under Luis Enrique in 2014-15.

In fairness, Sergio Busquets was just back from injury and was playing this match only thanks to a pain-killing injection. Meanwhile, Lionel Messi did not look quite right either after returning to action at the weekend to help Barca secure a 2-2 draw at Sevilla.

Messi missed Argentina's friendlies against Italy and Spain in the recent international break as he struggled with hamstring and adductor problems, and although he returned from the bench at the Sanchez Pizjuan and played the final 33 minutes, it was under special instructions to avoid sprints or quick changes of pace.

That would explain why he was not at his brilliant best in this match. Still Barca's brightest spark for much of the night, he looked a little slower than usual with the ball at his feet and the Camp Nou crowd never really saw him in full flow.

Nevertheless, he managed to play an important part in the second and third goals for Barca, leading the counter-attack for the latter and playing a one-two with the excellent Ivan Rakitic in the build-up to the other.

On the whole, this was a performance typical of Valverde's side, so efficient this season as they remain unbeaten both in La Liga and also in Europe. And in terms of the result, it is impossible to ask for more.

In order to win this competition, however, Barca will need Messi fit, firing and at his breathtaking best, along with Suarez scoring. The good news is that the Uruguayan is back among the goals, but concerns over the Argentine will persist.

Perhaps he now needs a rest against Leganes on Saturday.

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