The writing seemed firmly on the wall for Barcelona this season. That they would not be challenging for any honors seemed a ludicrous suggestion after the club won the treble last season that included their fifth European Cup.
However, a slow pre-season culminated in their domestic Super Cup hammering to Athletic Bilbao. The season followed quickly with lethargic displays and scrapping past inferior opponents. And when the champions weren’t doing that they were getting a 4-1 lesson from a defeat to Celta Vigo.
If things couldn’t get any worse, Lionel Messi was ruled out for up to eight weeks following his knee injury sustained against Las Palmas. Barcelona at the time couldn’t buy luck.
But since Messi’s injury the club have grouped together and learned how to deal with scoring goals without the Argentine genius. Neymar, who has shone recently, scored four goals against Rayo Vallecano, but it is Luis Suarez who has really come to age at the club in Messi’s absence.
Suarez who was more known for being the man to work off the ball last season, despite scoring 16 goals in the league is scoring more now as a classic center-forward.
From Barcelona’s first eight league games Suarez has found the net seven times and last weekend on his anniversary of his Barcelona debut he obliged with a hat-trick against Eibar.
The Uruguayan has really stepped up and is proving he is one of the best strikers in the world. By season’s end he will want to be known as the best.
It is easy therefore to see the void at the Catalan club had they not signed Suarez from Liverpool. He has earned perhaps 30% of Barcelona’s points this season and will continue to be a danger for the opposition.
Despite their rocky start to the season, Barcelona find themselves level on points with leaders Real Madrid who both share 21 from their first nine games.
Without playing near to their potential we could yet see the very best of Barcelona and if we do and if Suarez keeps up his form, we will most certainly start talking about more trebles once again.