Luis Suarez's aggressive intensity is best hope Barcelona have of interrupting Real Madrid title march

A different league

No one expects Real Madrid’s £500m squad not to come out on top in the Spanish title race that kicks off this Saturday. But then nobody expected Liverpool to fall just three points short of winning the Premier League last season. Into any La Liga forecast must be factored the Luis Suarez effect.

“I don’t believe in stars apart from the ones in the sky,” he said on Tuesday when asked in his official presentation about becoming one of the club’s “superstars”. It sounded like something Luis Enrique might say and it is no coincidence that it was Barcelona’s new coach who provoked the club’s sudden interest in signing Suarez.

Identifying Barcelona’s lost work ethic as the team’s biggest problem, he picked out the Liverpool striker as the solution and the club moved swiftly to give the new manager the player he wanted (for just £65m, according to the Barcelona director Jordi Mestre on Tuesday).

Suarez guarantees the aggressive intensity that Barcelona were completely bereft of last season. His detractors would be quick to add that he also guarantees trouble.

On Tuesday he spoke of the deep gloom that had descended as it sank in that biting Giorgio Chiellini had cost him his best chance to light up a World Cup, participation in next year’s Copa America, and the first 11 games of the season.


“It’s a private matter but I have worked with the appropriate professionals,” he said, offering confirmation that he had sought psychological help. “There were many days when I didn’t want to do anything. I was depressed but I spent some time with my wife and children and got myself together again and saw that it was right for me to apologise.”

The apology would not have been enough without the “I will never do it again” promise but you can only say “never again” once and he knows this is the last chance. He also knows that, at 27, a player of his ability really should have won far more. He has no major European league titles and only minimal participation in the Champions League. He now has the ultimate opportunity to change all that.

Something about the last few days has reinforced a sense that he will take the chance. For Monday’s friendly against FC Leon he was named among the substitutes along with eight youth-team graduates, Gerard Pique, Alex Song and Xavi. But while those three senior players chose not to warm up before the game, Suarez joined the circle of kids as they went through a one-touch passing drill.

He fizzed passes back and forth to the teenage substitutes with both laces untied and admitted on Tuesday that his feet ached after not putting on a pair of boots for so long. He wanted to make the most of every moment, having been at the Nou Camp only as a spectator previously, most notably for Barcelona’s 4-1 win over Arsenal in 2010.

That night Lionel Messi scored four and, to judge from his sprightly return, the Argentine is ready to thrive, free from the pressures of the World Cup.

He will benefit from Suarez’s contagious intensity and the space he opens up as teams are forced on to the back foot by the possibility of the early pass that releases him. Alongside Messi, Suarez does not need to repeat the 31 goals from last season, he just needs to give Barcelona back the insatiable pressing game they have lost.

His unavailability until the first Clasico on 26 October has given Real Madrid an advantage – as if the most expensively assembled team in history needed one – but, as Suarez reminded everyone on Tuesday, he started last season on 30 September and soon made up for lost time.

Preventing a Real Madrid procession to the title will depend on him doing likewise this time. And being a success at Barcelona will depend on never having to miss the start of another season.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
peopleMathematician John Nash inspired the film Beautiful Mind
Richard Blair is concerned the trenches are falling into disrepair
newsGeorge Orwell's son wants to save war site that inspired book
Life and Style
Audrey Hepburn with Hubert De Givenchy, whose well-cut black tuxedo is a 'timeless look'
fashionIt may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
Arts and Entertainment
The pair in their heyday in 1967
Life and Style
fashionFrom bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine