Luis Suarez once again failed to fire as Barcelona lost pace with league leaders Real Madrid at the top of the table, following a surprising a goalless draw to Getafe at the Coliseum Alfonso Perez on Saturday.
Though missing the services of the injured Neymar, and Lionel Messi uncharacteristically misfiring, it was Luis Suarez who has came under the heaviest attacks from fans and Spanish media.
Suarez may still be searching for his debut league goal since his £75m summer move from Liverpool, though his display at the weekend was reasonable. He created chances in front of goal for his teammates, which they squandered. Yet somehow, the blame has fallen squarely on his shoulders.
Marca lambasted the striker’s ‘toothless’ display as his barren run in front of goal continued. The paper also claimed that the Uruguayan is one of Barcelona’s worst signings in history. Suarez’ critics have perhaps chosen to dismiss the fact that last season’s Golden Shoe winner has scored twice for the club, with two in the Champions League.
Given the length of the ban imposed upon him that saw him miss the start of the season, critics ought to be a little more lenient with the striker; he is clearly still adjusting to life with a new club, in a new league, and in a new country. Approaching the winter break and coming up to the halfway point in the season, we might be. But Suarez needs to be granted time to acclimatise, and not dismissed as a failure after just nine games.
Saturday’s result was not down to the ‘failings’ of one player, or of the quality of the pitch and early kick off time, as bemoaned by Barca’s sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta. We saw a lifeless, directionless performance under Luis Enrique, who must surely see that his squad rotation and tinkering with starting line-ups from one week to the next is not a tactic that is working in his favour.
The squad need to be galvanised, and a ruthlessness instilled in them – while 36 league goals to their name, having conceded just seven is commendable – the ability to win matches like the Gatafe game against inferior opposition will make all the difference come the season’s end.
Barcelona will make a welcome return to the Nou Camp for their next match – against Huesca on Tuesday in the Copa del Rey last-32 where they lead 4-0 from the first leg. Enrique looks likely to rest many first-team players. Pressure off Suarez for now, perhaps. Though he will need to find his shooting boots in time for the next league outing – a seemingly winnable home fixture against Corboda – if he is to keep the critics at bay until New Year.