Earlier this week, FC Barcelona pummeled Pep's Bayern Munich and sealed their place in the Champions League final with a 5-3 aggregate scoreline. The excitement over Barça's first European final in three years (and Madrid's loss), however, completely overshadowed one critical detail: Luis Suarez picked up an injury during the first half of the second leg match.
Suarez's substitution during halftime came as a shock to the Barcelona fans sitting in the Allianz Arena and at home. However, no one seemed too concerned since the Uruguayan was not seen limping or struggling on the pitch. Nevertheless, the club did reveal that the former Liverpool forward had felt some tightness in his left hamstring during the game and was substituted as a precaution.
The striker, who trained independently on Wednesday, has been a goal-scoring powerhouse for the Catalan club, but has also been labeled as doubtful for the team's clash against Atletico de Madrid this Sunday. If Suarez were to be left out, the team's chances of clinching the league title could be jeopardized.
After Suarez's exit from Tuesday's Champions League match, Barcelona's possession and tempo quickly diminished. Luis is a player who is constantly moving; he is consistently pushing the off-side boundary and stretching out the opposition's defense, while, in some mystical way, being continually available to track back and defend. How he manages such incredible athleticism is beyond me, but it is that physicality that both haunts defenders and creates opportunities for a blaugrana player to strike.
This physical presence is exactly what Barcelona was missing during last season's woeful second half. Messi did his best to fill in this role, but his small stature and injuries prevented him from applying the kind of pressure that one needs against an aggressive team like Atleti. Need I remind you that Simeone's men not only knocked Barcelona out of the Champions League, but also held the team to a 1-1 draw, thus keeping the Camp Nou stadium free of any titles that year.
Fortunately, the colchoneros haven't found the success or the form they had last season, a factor that, may indeed, prove deadly to the "other" Madrid team.
In spite of Suarez's initial struggles, he has arguably been Barcelona's best signing since David Villa and, whether he plays or not, I believe that Luis Enrique's tactics will be enough to bring the La Liga title back to Catalonia.