Barcelona forward Luis Suarez is under scrutiny for his pitiful scoring record in European away games, stretching to more than 25 hours without a goal, after a 0-0 draw in their Champions League last-16 first leg at Olympique Lyonnais on Tuesday.
The Uruguayan is the second top scorer in Spain with 15 La Liga goals, but has not found the net in a Champions League away game since a 1-1 draw at AS Roma in September 2015, firing blanks in 16 consecutive foreign trips.
He lacked sharpness and speed of thought in Lyon, spurning Barca’s clearest chance in the second half and frequently losing possession, interrupting Barca’s flow on a night when they had 25 shots on goal, but only hit the target five times.
“Suarez is not enjoying his best form, he hasn’t scored in four league games, and his performances have clearly dipped since 2019 began,” wrote Spanish newspaper Marca.
“Being Suarez, he is still scoring goals, but his slump has not gone unnoticed at Barca, who are struggling as a result. Despite 25 shots in Lyon, they left empty-handed.”
Catalan daily Sport, meanwhile, gave Suarez a rating of four out of 10, the lowest of Barca’s players, saying he looked “anxious”.
His meagre return on the continent reflects that of his team, who have not won away in the Champions League knockout stage for over three years, scoring three times in six games on the road since a 2-0 victory at Arsenal in February 2016.
Barca’s poor away record in Europe has played a big role in their failure to hurdle the quarter-final stage, since they last lifted the trophy in 2015.
“Barca let Lyon off the hook and seemed to be suffering from a goal-scoring curse,” wrote Mundo Deportivo.
Failing to score in Lyon means Barca must win the second leg at the Nou Camp on March 13, and they will be vulnerable should the French side, who like the Spaniards are unbeaten in this season’s competition, grab an away goal.
Suarez could at least count on the support of his coach Ernesto Valverde and teammates after the game.
“It would worry me if he wasn’t getting chances, which is what you ask for from a striker, and he is creating chances too,” Valverde said.
“Opponents are still frightened of him, and players go through spells of scoring and not scoring.”
Defender Gerard Pique added: “The players upfront have shown throughout their career that they can score a lot of goals, and the ball will go in the net soon enough. Suarez has given us so many goals, and he will give us a lot more.”Reuters