O F F I C I A L

Luis Suárez will be operated tomorrow for an injury to the external mensicus of the right knee – that damned knee. Some outlets are stating that he could be out for between 4 and 6 weeks, but apparently it will be from 6 to 8 weeks. While the goal is that he’s fit for the first leg of the UCL last 16 tie against Napoli, it’s difficult that he’s available for that clash. For the second leg at the Camp Nou, though, he will already be elegible.

Suárez will miss several important games, like the visits to Mestalla and the Benito Villamarín, or the round of 32, round of 16, quarterfinals (one-legged ties) and perhaps one or both legs of the Copa del Rey. If he misses 7 or 8 weeks, he could be out for El Clásico and the Real Sociedad matches, but that remains to be seen. We all know that Luis tends to return earlier than expected.

What now for Barcelona, without a player that has 14 goals and 11 assists to his name this season? As I always say, this may be a blessing in disguise, as it’s a big opportunity to give playtime to others, or to try different combinations in attacks. We cannot overlook how vital the Uruguayan is in this side either, capable of producing the unimaginable even in his worst days. Quality wise, we lose an essential figure in the team.

However, it is also true that he influences our entire game, and not always positively. With Suárez and Messi freed from defensive tasks, our pressing tends to be far less effective and this gives us an enormous disadvantage. It means as well that, with Leo and Griezmann too, we tend to have little width and depth.

Now, with Suárez unfortunately injured, it will finally be time to use natural wingers. In the immediate future, Ansu and Carles Pérez’s minutes will increase significantly. Terrific news. Then, Dembélé is expected to return in February as well. For the centre-forward position, we’ve got two options: use Griezmann in the middle, or Messi as a false 9. I’m a personal fan of Leo as the false 9, but it depends on who plays alongside him. In any case, a world of choice opens up with the unlucky news of Suárez’s injury.

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