The La Liga season may only be a week old but Barcelona forward Luis Suarez is showing similar worrying signs of the struggles he faced at the start of the last campaign, which may prove a stumbling block to his side’s hopes of retaining their title.
On Saturday, the champions visit Real Valladolid, who are back in the top flight after a four-year absence and pulled off a surprise victory in their last game against Barca to derail the Catalans’ title bid in 2014.
Barca recorded a 3-0 home win over Alaves in their opening game of the campaign but the scoreline flattered Ernesto Valverde’s side, who needed an enterprising Lionel Messi free kick to break the deadlock midway through the second half.
The Uruguayan struggled to dovetail with his strike partners and his only positive contribution of note was a cross for Messi to chest down and score the final goal in stoppage time.
Valverde insisted he had no concerns over Suarez’s form.
“Last year he received criticism at the start because he struggled to score goals but once he started he didn’t stop,” the coach said of the 31-year-old Suarez.
“He always guarantees you fight and competitiveness, it’s just a matter of patience and persevering.”
Elsewhere in La Liga this weekend, Atletico Madrid host Rayo Vallecano after drawing 1-1 with Valencia in their opening game, while Real Madrid visit Girona, where they suffered a shock 2-1 defeat last season.