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The importance of Luis Suarez to FC Barcelona

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Uruguayan delivers on the big stage again

FC Barcelona v Club Atletico de Madrid - La Liga Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images

It seems a lifetime ago when Cules were clamouring for Barcelona to rid themselves of a misfiring Luis Suarez.

The Uruguayan was, admittedly, in the midst of a bit of a drought, but, importantly, was still doing all of the right things bar sticking the ball in the onion bag.

Often, when a player loses his touch or form, the other elements of his game collapse too, and it takes a monumental effort to scale the mountain and get back in the groove.

Suarez never let his head drop during the spell that he always once every season, and has kept plugging away and fighting the good fight.

One thing he can never be accused of is not putting in a shift because he’s one of the hardest working centre-forwards I’ve ever seen.

And with that work ethic, eventually, comes reward.

We’d seen it a few days earlier at Villarreal, when lesser mortals would’ve given up the ghost long before his 93rd-minute last-kick equaliser.

Not Suarez.

That incessant desire and will to win was on show again on Saturday too. Despite a world-class performance from goalkeeper Jan Oblak, he was beaten by a shot from a player who thrives on the pressure of such a battle.

The importance of both goals scored in the past week will likely be measured by the fact that it’s brought the Blaugranes within touching distance of yet another La Liga title.

It may be that Barca were always going to win the league in any event, but who knows what might’ve happened to the team’s confidence had they not come out of those two games unbeaten.

It’s not too many seasons ago remember that Real Madrid were well out of the league picture but then put in a late run which, coupled with a handful of poor results from the Catalans (one draw and three successive defeats), made the run in more stressful than it needed to be.

Lionel Messi’s award for the best player in La Liga for March, coupled with the win putting him ahead of Iker Casillas with the most victories of all time in the Spanish top flight (335), will almost certainly keep the headline writers busy, however, Suarez’s contribution can’t be overlooked.

When the likes of Antoine Griezmann, who hasn’t scored in 13 Camp Nou appearances, is again being touted as a potential replacement, it brings the Uruguayan’s skillset into sharper focus.

El Pistolero will keep on firing for a while yet...