Luis Suarez: From flat-track bully to man for the big occasion
Despite shining in England, some questioned Luis Suarez’s ability to perform in the big games enough. This reputation as a flat-track bully though is quickly changing at Barcelona, with Sunday’s El Clasico winner the latest in a number of big game goals in recent times for El Pistolero.
The Uruguayan’s last season at Liverpool was spectacular. Winning the Golden Boot, being named as the Premier League Player of the Year and leading the Merseyside club’s surprise title challenge. He scored goals for fun, tormenting defenders with his guile and energy. However, the one blot on his copybook was his record against the biggest of teams. In his last season, he failed to score against Manchester City and Chelsea, whilst only grabbing a single goal vs both Manchester United and Arsenal.
By his exceptionally high standards, this wasn’t good enough. He seemed to be a man easily able to rip apart the more frail or inferior opponent, but not a big game player necessarily.
Although in Spain this has all changed and, in fact, Suarez is now the opposite of his previous self at Anfield. His goals tally is unspectacular in Spain to date, largely down to the time missed during his lengthy ban and trying to settle in a new league. But he is now seemingly enjoying greater success in the bigger fixtures.
He has scored against PSG, Man City twice, Atletico Madrid and now grabbed the winner in a crucial Clasico. Perhaps not being the main man has helped him in this regard. Suarez is no longer the one top defences focus their undying attention on. That mantle obviously lies with the great Lionel Messi in Barcelona.
Many have previously profited from this, as such is the magic of the little Argentine, that other superstars can play with less attention placed on them by the opposition defenders.
Extra space allows Suarez to receive an easier ride in the biggest games and his improved goals tally on such occasions prove this. Also the fact that the team is very much built around Messi and that all must accommodate him means that he will inevitably score less overall. That, unfortunately, comes with the territory.
So the controversial centre forward is beginning to make a name for himself at the Camp Nou after a difficult start, which saw many doubt his abilities to live up to the hefty price tag Barcelona paid to acquire his services. It does seem as though as if his foot is made of lead sometimes compared to the likes of Andrés Iniesta, Lionel Messi and Neymar alongside him.
That said, he is beginning to flourish in a new role as an able deputy to the undisputed chief in Catalonia, Lionel Messi.