Luis Suarez is a problem for Barcelona
Luis Suarez once again drew a blank in the Champions League for Barcelona and had a real shocker of a game in France.
The Uruguayan has now gone over 25 hours without a goal in the competition, a truly remarkable (and horrible) stat:
It finishes goalless in Lyon...— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) February 19, 2019
Luis Suarez has failed to score (or deliver an assist) in his last 1,511 minutes away from home in the #ChampionsLeague - 25 hours and 11 minutes without finding the net or setting up a goal pic.twitter.com/3glPbV5NMJ
He did have chances and went close a couple of times but it simply wasn’t to be. The pressure seemed to be getting to him too particularly in the closing stages.
His form says he should be dropped, but the problem is that Barcelona simply don’t have a reliable alternative.
Paco Alcacer has been sold to Dortmund, Munir left in January for Sevilla, while Kevin-Prince Boateng arrived in the winter but has barely impressed in his two appeances for the club.
Ernesto Valverde does have options though if he’s brave enough to bench Suarez and play Lionel Messi as a false nine. Philippe Coutinho or Malcom could feature in attack alongside the Barcelona captain and Dembele.
Lack of goals must concern Valverde
Barcelona drew a blank for the second time in four games despite creating chances in France.
Against Real Valladolid on Saturday they managed 20 shots on target but only scored once, from the penalty spot, against Lyon it was up to 25:
25 - Barcelona had 25 shots against Lyon, their most in a @ChampionsLeague game without scoring since at least 2003/04. Effort. pic.twitter.com/43fQgELfyy— OptaJose (@OptaJose) February 19, 2019
Suarez’s struggles have alraedy been highlighted, but Lionel Messi put in the kind of display which suggests he is not 100% fit and Ousmane Dembele sparkled but lacked a bit of quality with his end product.
Valverde said after the match that he is not worried by Suarez’s form as long as he’s getting chances, but he must be concerned by his side’s inability to find the back of the net at present.
Barca have only scored two in their last four and will hope they can rediscover their goalscoring touch against Sevilla on Saturday.
Pablo Machin’s men have bit a bit of a slump in La Liga with defeats against Villarreal and Celta Vigo in recent weeks, while Barca put six past them at the Camp Nou when the two sides met in the Copa del Rey in January.
Result leaves Barcelona vulnerable
Both Ernesto Valverde and Sergio Busquets spoke about the need for an away goal in Lyon, and Barcelona’s failure to do so leaves them vulnerable ahead of the return at the Camp Nou.
Barcelona will be well aware that Tuesday’s draw means they will go out with a score draw at the Camp Nou and will have to beat Lyon in the return fixture.
The visitors will be boosted by the return from suspension from Nabil Fekir and showed enough in the first leg to demonstrate they can cause problems.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen was called into action twice in the first half to make great saves from Houssem Aouar and Martin Terrier, and Lyon will fancy their chances of scoring at the Camp Nou.
80% - Marc-André ter Stegen has saved 17 of the 20 shots on target he has faced for @FCBarcelona in the @ChampionsLeague this season. Agile. pic.twitter.com/wZXyUMRJBL— OptaJose (@OptaJose) February 19, 2019
Of course Barcelona should also have a key player back for the second leg. Arthur should be fit in time after a hamstring problem, and the young Brazilian has been missed.
Barcelona will still be favourites to progress and have shown their ability to bounce back in two-legged ties already this season, think Sevilla and Levante in the Copa del Rey.
Of course the Champions League is a different kettle of fish entirely, and Tuersday’s goalless draw means the return leg could well be a nervy affair.