As Barcelona prepare to face Athletic Bilbao, there are several interesting aspects to the clash. Firstly, it is Ernesto Valverde’s first game against his former club and it will be interesting to see how Bilbao’s passionate fans receive the former gaffer. Another fascinating feature is in regards to the conundrum Valverde faces up front.
So far this season, Valverde has been completely supportive of Luis Suarez, whether the striker had scored in a game or not. When asked about his misfiring striker recently he leapt to his defence saying:
“He did well at Atletico, scored, and had chances against Olympiakos. We know he will have two, three, four chances in a game – he’s there being a nuisance for opposition defenders.”
While Valverde’s statement is true and Suarez has continued to be a nuisance to all defenses, his critical touch has been missing so far this year, and the question must be asked, have we seen the best of Luis Suarez at Barcelona?
On the other hand, Alcacer is coming off a goal scored in midweek versus Murcia int he Copa del Rey. While that isn’t a great accomplishment in itself, it certainly will help with Alcacer’s confidence.
It is critical to remember that while it seems Alcacer has been with the club for a while, it is only his second year. In addition, the pressures of the first year may now have worn off and don’t forget he is still only 24.
An introduction to a big league game against the manager’s former team, could work wonders for the confidence of the young man. In his last year at Valencia, Alcacer scored 13 goals in the Liga campaign. Clearly, the talent is there, it seems it is just a matter of adjusting to the Barcelona way and finally imposing his will on games.
Valverde will have a lot of questions to answer before the game vs Athletic, the midfield is up for debate with Ivan Rakitic disappointing so far and Denis Suarez excelling wherever he is placed in the line-up.
The biggest question though is if Alcacer has earned the manager’s trust in training and in games. If so, is it possible that this season sets the stage for a transformation in the striker position, or will Suarez come out flying and remind all Barcelona fans of his world class talent? Only time will tell! Visca Barca!
Who do you think deserves to start against Athletic? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!