uarez return boosts Barcelona's delayed title bid





Luis Suarez is one of the few to benefit from the coronavirus crisis because he can feature in the remainder of a season he would have otherwise missed. Now he could be crucial to Barcelona's title defence.



 
The coronavirus pandemic has proven a global nightmare but there are a select few whom it has helped, not hindered - including Barcelona striker Luis Suarez.
The Uruguayan hitman was resigned to missing the rest of the season after undergoing keyhole surgery on a knee injury in January, but football's suspension in March gave him the chance to recover.
Suarez received medical clearance to play last weekend and is hoping to start Barcelona’s first game back in La Liga, on Saturday at Real Mallorca.
Barcelona lead the standings, two points ahead of rivals Real Madrid, with 11 matches remaining in a sprint finish to the season.
"I feel very good, adapting to training with my team-mates," Suarez told Barcelona’s official website last week. 
"Returning after an injury is always difficult, because you are a little scared but I'm enjoying being back."
A report in Spanish newspaper Diario Sport said the dressing room has seen the striker training with more enthusiasm than ever, describing him as "like a child with new shoes".
Suarez's return is a vital boost for Barcelona as they bid to keep ahead of Madrid, as he looks to re-establish his telepathic connection with the team’s star player, Lionel Messi.
The Argentine, La Liga's top scorer and assist provider with 19 and 12 respectively, missed some training sessions with a thigh problem but coach Quique Setien says Messi is in perfect condition for the restart.
Barcelona have a tricky fixture list, with matches against Sevilla, Atletico Madrid and a Catalan derby against Espanyol some of the harder-looking encounters.
While he has benefited from Suarez’s return, Setien doesn’t think cramming the rest of the season in quickly will help Barcelona, especially with new rules allowing five substitutes.
"I think having five substitutes is going to harm us because we've resolved many games in the final few minutes and our opponents will have fresh legs," said Setien.
Barcelona's thirst for possession, and the coach's own style in particular, helps the team tire out their opposition and then capitalise in the latter stages of matches, sometimes racking up big scorelines.
"I prefer to come from the bench and play less than to be taken off," Messi revealed to TyC Sports in 2019.
"I say that because a lot of games are resolved near the end of the game, or you find more spaces then because you have more rivals that are tired. I prefer to come in and enjoy it than to leave and miss out on the best bit."
Granted the ability to replace almost half the team, opponents may find it easier to defend against the Argentine, although it remains the hardest task in world football, and harder now Suarez is back by his side.
With the Champions League postponed until August, Barcelona can concentrate on trying to defend their league title for a third successive season.
Setien, who has never won a title in his 19-year career as a coach, had said it wouldn't feel like a true victory if the league had been decided early, as in France, because of the health crisis.
Now he gets to play it out, with his key weapons primed for action.

Thursday, June 11th 2020
By Rik Sharma,
           


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