After six years of roller coaster ride, Luis Suarez has left Barcelona, where he found his very best self. Scoring 198 goals and 100+ assists in just 283 matches, the Uruguayan striker undoubtedly makes it to the Barcelona hall of fame. His form in late years might raise questions about various things. Yet nothing can override the fact that he has 307 goals contribution in just six seasons, statistics that are only second to Lionel Messi. But we prefer talking tactically rather than statistically. Here today, Let’s unveil Luis Suarez’s unique footballing sense and technical abilities.
Football is a sport that is having revolutions since it was played first. One such revolution is the evolution of number nines. Strikers in the modern era aren’t solely judged on their number of goals but their contribution to the team as a whole. Though Luis Suarez is not the one to start the revolution, he might be one who superimposed the most focus on it.
The use of poachers has been lessened in modern-day football as well as the role of a binding/dropping striker became more and more influential. Managers these days not only ask their strikers to score but to create space for others, to drop deep and facilitate the build-up, to use the brain more than strength and power.
Binding striker means the one whose job is to stick a defender with him, often dragging them wide to open up spaces for teammates. And a dropping striker refers to the profile that drops deeper to take part in build-up allowing others to move forward and support the midfielders. Luis Suarez has featured as both, but maybe he’s a bit more like a binding one.
The aforementioned characteristics are best seen in Luis Suarez. The Uruguayan striker doesn’t only score a big number of goals but offers his team and his teammate’s great support offensively. Despite being a striker, his large tally of 113 assists for Barcelona speaks on behalf.
SUAREZ, WHEN OFF THE BALL:
Let’s get started with Suarez’s intelligent runs and positioning sense. Suarez is not a player who a defender wants to face in his prime. Suarez tends to use his head to create spaces for him and his teammates. Here you see Messi has the ball and Suarez is sticking with a centre-back. Messi then attempted a one-two with him by which he sets Messi up. Using his strength, he holds the defender back and binds him. This consequently let Messi unleash a shot.
In the next picture, Alba plays a cut back inside the box. Suarez having two defenders in front of him, understands the difficulty to score. Then He sees the bigger picture and let the ball roll to Messi who has just run into a pocket of space. The next moment it was 3-1 Barca.
Luis Suarez has the best connection with Messi in this aspect. Here’s another frame where he is standing at the edge of the box to draw the attention of the center back. Again this move lets Messi have a pocket of space in a crucial position. Messi too acknowledged Suarez’s intention and made a late run to maximize the outcome.
Suarez is the best in terms of creating spaces for himself too. Here in this frame below while, Roberto was about to get the ball, he was marked tightly by Varane.
Roberto then took on Caravajal and drifted inside. Suarez did foresee the possibilities and distanced himself from Varane to a wider position, now Varane has two choices, either he will follow him and let Roberto penetrate, or he’ll tackle Roberto and leave Suarez free. Thus Lusito pushed him into a difficult situation and created up space for himself.
Here again, Suarez is telling Munir to make run to the near post which of course will draw the marker away. At the same time, he makes a sprint to the far post and positioned himself to the defender’s blindside. His blindside runs are one of his best off the ball features.
This is another frame where we can see Messi making a diagonal run, Suarez back then was marked by a centre back. He acknowledged the possibilities of Messi drawing all the defenders towards him and made a run across the right side.
Moments later, Lusito found himself empty with no one keeping an eye on. This anticipation and game reading is as elite as it gets.
This time Suarez and all the opposition defenders were expecting a cross from Alves. For that, the defender intended to follow Suarez to the near post to avert possible danger.
But Suarez faked his run and moved slightly towards the center. That eventually let him have the space to bang in another intelligent goal.
As well as being a dropping striker, he also used to drop between the lines and receive the ball. Then Messi and Neymar would have the time to make a run forward. At that time Suarez used to square a pass, and a midfielder would look for Messi/Neymar in behind the defence.
Luis Suarez was an integral part of MSN and scored a hefty amount of goals. His combination play with Messi & Neymar was surreal. Following their built-in instinct, Messi and Neymar would always drift inside. That time he used to drift wide and offer an option at wing. He’s evenly good in one-touch passing, the trait he used largely to combine with Messi. He used to do two things at once; setting up both Messi and Neymar from time to time as well as binding a defender. You can see a large number of goals like this.
Through his tactical awareness and sense, Luis Suarez has largely contributed to Barcelona’s attack over the last six years. This calibre of him seemed to help Barcelona in their attacking plays. Now that he has left the club, Barca is undoubtedly going to miss him a lot. His tussles with defenders, blindside runs, bullying the back-four and even dropping back to somewhere between midfield and attacking third were integral parts of Barca’s offensive threats.
The most alarming fact is, Barca, let him go without having any proper replacement. There’s no such player in the current squad who would offer these traits. Hence Koeman will have to find something new to keep his attack well complemented.
ON THE BALL:
You would like Suarez when he’s on the ball too. Using his strength and dribbling ability, He can steer through any defence like a tank. His dribblings were a deadly weapon for Luis Enrique’s holy trinity- MSN. Suarez’s admirable ball-carrying ability came to great use back then.
He generally tries to put the defender in an uncomfortable position by body faints and slight touches. His strong physiques also enable him to go shoulder to shoulder with them. Such a scene was put in to show by El Pistolero against the match vs Paris in 2015. He cruised through their defence from the right-hand side, taking on three defenders. Suarez’s great balance and mobility came to the business and took the PSG back four apart.
He’s feared by defenders for his cheeky movements. In the same match vs Paris, he nutmegged David Luiz and sent the GK wrong way while unleashing the shot. Prime Luis Suarez was one hell of a player to watch.
Suarez is a player who is ready to do anything for the team. The small boy with a traumatic childhood made it to the Anfield and the Nou Camp from the rough and hilly areas Uruguay. The path wasn’t easy. Moreover, he created his path to success.
Barcelona was Suarez’s career revival stage. After the 2014 World Cup scandal, when no one would want to pay him for so many months just for sitting on the bench, Barcelona bet their money on him having been out for the first 2 months of the season, it took a long time to find the true self back on the field. But nothing could stop this tough Uruguayan.
The Uruguayan mentality is hard and rough. Similar geography in football is also wild there. You can see this eminence cleary in Luis Suarez. After a bad miss, he’ll thrive on scoring with all his potency, and he might also end up scoring an acrobatic goal.
In July 2014, He was suspended from all forms of football for almost 4 months, and just 7 months after returning to the pitch, Lusito scored the decisive goal in the Champions League Final. A remarkable turn around which required plenty of struggle and hard work behind the scene.
However, his form has seen a rapid downfall lately. As a result, he received a lot of criticism in his last days at Camp Nou. But nothing here can take away what Luis Suarez has done for the club over the years. In fact, every tale has an ending. After a sparkling start in 2014 and passing three exquisite seasons, He started to lose himself from the end of 2016-17.
And in the last couple of seasons, he was barely in his own stride. As you can see, Suarez’s weapons are mostly his quick movements and fluidity you can easily understand why he has declined so fast. Making a lot of moves requires energy and stamina which Suarez is not going to have in his thirties. Still, He is a lethal finisher in front of the goal. And in Atletico’s system, he can be a great fit.