At the end of last summer, it was revealed that Luis Suarez’s career was on a decline after he was piled with the dead forest that needed to be cleared under new boss Ronald Koeman.
Suarez had not had a bad season at Nou Camp, with his 21 goals in 36 games a more than respectable return for many strikers.
But in a season where he was hit by injury problems and his advanced age, Koeman chose not to include him as part of his Barca future and the now 34-year-old was sold to Atletico Madrid for £ 5.5 million.
Luis Suarez has continued to pop in goals for Atletico Madrid this season with 16 in total
It’s an impressive return for LaLiga’s current top scorer after his summer move from Barcelona
It was a decision that enraged the Uruguayan striker, claiming he still had what it took to play at the highest level.
He told France Football this week: ‘What really bothered me was when they told me I was old and I couldn’t play at a high level anymore. [the task of fronting] a great team, I didn’t like that. ‘
‘If I hadn’t done anything at a club like Barca for three or four seasons, I would have understood. But every year at Barça I scored more than 20 goals per season. I’ve always had good statistics, just behind Leo (Messi).
‘Today we can see that it is not easy to play at Barça … Many players who signed there were not of the level expected of them. I played at Barça for six years to maintain a certain level and live what was expected of me. ‘
Suarez is determined at the age of 34 to prove his doubters wrong for being too old
Suarez’s offensive numbers this season are, according to statistics, comparable to his still impressive last season at Barcelona SofaScore.com
Suarez has proven that you don’t have to be Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo to regularly find the net in your mid-30s and make your way to Tuesday night’s Champions League game against Chelsea. He is LaLiga’s top scorer this season (along with the Argentinian) with 16 goals.
It’s only been in the last few weeks that he’s off the boil … kind of. His current three-game LaLiga scoreless drought is his longest of the season – and it followed a run of nine goals from just seven top flights.
Not that it was all perfect for Suarez. He has also played in four Champions League games for Diego Simeone’s side and failed to find any of them in the net.
Aside from Bayern Munich, against whom they were heavily beaten 4-0 on the opening matchday, Atletico’s group didn’t have many big hitters as they were also put alongside Red Bull Salzburg and Lokomotiv Moscow. Still, Suarez was largely ineffective during the four appearances – with the other two games he missed because he tested positive for the coronavirus.
Suarez claims his stats when he was always good at Barcelona, just behind Lionel Messi (left)
But despite his impressive return, the striker was relieved in Camp Nou in the summer
So Suarez’s recent pedigree against some of Europe’s big parties can be called into question, and that will ease Chelsea, whose Suarez also doesn’t have a particularly good track record of finding the net against.
During his career, he faced the Blues nine times, scoring only twice in this period.
Neither of them were in the two Champions League games he faced against Barça, but instead came to Liverpool during the 2012/13 season where headers saw him save the equalizers for the Reds in both Premier League participants.
This includes a break time effort at Anfield in a match where he was also infamously caught biting Branislav Ivanovic in an off-the-ball incident.
The forward has scored just two goals in his career against Chelsea, both with Liverpool
His header in 2013 saved stoppage time for the Reds in a Premier League clash
Still, Chelsea has major problems with the defense. They miss the vital experience of veteran defender Thiago Silva, who has been out since the beginning of the month after injuring his thigh in the London derby win over Tottenham.
The defender has returned to full training, but the collision comes too early for the Brazilian.
While this hasn’t turned out to be a disaster, with the Blues remaining unbeaten under Thomas Tuchel and scoring only two goals in their four games since then, Atlético will be a step up from the opposition.
Those four appearances included Premier League Sheffield United, fellow fighters Newcastle United, Barnsley Championship outfit in the FA Cup and Southampton at the weekend.
Chelsea will have to stop Suarez without the veteran defender Thiago Silva in the back
Andreas Christensen, however, could be rested in Madrid after impressing recently
The Saints took the lead after a simple through ball cut through Chelsea’s back three, with Kurt Zouma showing a shaky performance in the 1-1 draw at St Mary’s.
Previously, Andreas Christensen played in the center of the backline alongside Antonio Rudiger and Cesar Azpilicueta.
Tuchel was willing to give much of his squad a chance to impress in the first team, but Zouma couldn’t really show why he would get the nod to take out Suarez at the Wanda Metropolitano.
Instead, it will likely see a return to the starting XI for Christensen, who looks more adept and also more confident in taking down the dangerous elements that Suarez offers, including his physical strength, head and dribble abilities.
It may have been proven that there are two points down in the Premier League, but with Christensen’s impressive displays now combined with some rest last weekend, he could be Chelsea’s main man in the back to keep Suarez out on Tuesday night.