Simeone Confident Suarez, Felix Can Unlock Chelsea

A file COMBO of Luis Suarez and Joao Felix

 

Luis Suarez, despite his Champions League goal drought, and Joao Felix, whose future is in question, will start together as Atletico Madrid try to fight back in their second leg at Chelsea, coach Diego Simeone said on Tuesday.

“Only one objective: victory,” said Simeone, whose team face a 1-0 deficit in the last-16 tie after losing their ‘home’ game in Bucharest. “I must find the necessary tools to achieve this.”

Despite Covid-19 restrictions, Wednesday’s game will be played at Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge home.

Suarez has not scored an away goal in the competition since he struck in the 21st minute of Barcelona’s opening group game at Roma in September 2015. Since then he has 17 goals in the Champions League, all at the Nou Camp for Barcelona.

He has yet to score in five appearances in the competition for Atletico.

 

Atletico Madrid’s Argentine coach Diego Simeone gestures during the Spanish league football match Club Atletico de Madrid against Real Madrid CF at the Wanda Metropolitano stadium in Madrid on March 7, 2021. JAVIER SORIANO / AFP

 

“Now would be good time for him to snap the streak,” Simeone told a press conference on Tuesday. “Why not?

“Suarez is a very important player for us, a striker who has a lot of influence on our game, who has standing, for us and for our opponents.”

Felix’s recent form has been questioned in Spain even as he has been the subject of speculation in Britain that Manchester City want the 21-year-old Portuguese to replace former Atletico striker Sergio Aguero.

“Joao is a very important player, he started the season at a very high level, we need that player,” said Simeone. “All footballers go through different phases in their careers, especially when they are young.”

With Felix alongside him at the press conference, Simeone dismissed doubts about the striker’s defensive work-rate.

“We all want him to grow and for him to grow and get to where he wants to be, he has to be complete and have different facets, because all footballers want to work for the team.”

Felix echoed his coach.

“I’m happy at the club,” he said. “Like all players I have not so good phases, I don’t know if I’m going through one or not, but I’m sure it will pass.”

“I don’t know if I lack desire. There are many examples of players who had a lot of talent, but lacked something to reach the top.

“I don’t want to be one of them, so I try to apply my desire and my talent.”

Chelsea are unbeaten since Thomas Tuchel took over from the sacked Frank Lampard in late January.

“We are facing a team that is doing very well, that has not lost since the arrival of its new coach,” said Simeone.

“But tomorrow, we will be looking for one result: victory. And we’ll try to play the game the way we need to achieve that objective.

-AFP

Suarez Contracts COVID-19, To Miss Brazil Showdown

In this file picture taken on June 29, 2019 Uruguay’s Luis Suarez reacts during the Copa America quarterfinal football match against Peru at the Fonte Nova Arena in Salvador, Brazil. JUAN MABROMATA / AFP

 

Uruguay’s Luis Suarez has tested positive for Covid-19 and will miss the World Cup qualifying match against Brazil, Uruguay’s football association announced Monday.

“Tests have been carried out on all the members of the national team, with the result that the players Luis Suarez (and) Rodrigo Munoz and the official, Matias Faral, have tested positive for Covid-19,” the federation said in a statement.

All three are “in good health”, it added. They join defender Matias Vina, who tested positive on Saturday after Uruguay’s 3-0 win over Colombia in Barranquilla.

Uruguay host Brazil in Montevideo on Tuesday.

AFP

Suarez Bags Brace In Debut As Atletico Hammer Granada

Atletico Madrid’s Uruguayan forward Luis Suarez (2L) scores during the Spanish league football match Club Atletico de Madrid against Granada FC at the Wanda Metropolitano stadium in Madrid on September 27, 2020. GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP

 

Luis Suarez scored two and set up another in a sensational 20-minute debut for Atletico Madrid on Sunday as his new team started their Liga season with a thumping 6-1 victory over Granada.

Suarez set up a goal two minutes after coming on as a substitute, his sumptuous pass finished off by Marcos Llorente, before scoring himself with a powerful header at the back post.

He then added another in injury time following up his own shot to make it six for rampant Atletico at the Wanda Metropolitano.

Diego Costa had earlier given the home team the lead. Angel Correa and the impressive Joao Felix, who was perhaps the best player on the pitch put Granada out of sight before Suarez stole the show.

Suarez might have had a hat-trick given he also won a penalty and had the ball under his arm to take it, only for the decision to be reversed by referee Javier Estrada.

But Suarez’s performance off the bench completed the perfect start to the season for him and for Atletico, who might start to believe the scoring problems of last term could be behind them.

It was not only Suarez’s contribution that would have pleased Diego Simeone but the displays of his other forwards, with Costa and Felix, perhaps invigorated by the Uruguayan’s arrival, looking sharper.

 

Atletico Madrid’s Uruguayan forward Luis Suarez (R) celebrates with teammates after scoring during the Spanish league football match Club Atletico de Madrid against Granada FC at the Wanda Metropolitano stadium in Madrid on September 27, 2020. GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP

 

Felix was excellent. If the 20-year-old can find some consistency this season after a stop-start opening year, Atletico could challenge for the title.

They might have been two up in the first quarter of an hour as Costa did well to head in Correa’s cross before Felix won a penalty, his dancing run into the box drawing a foul from Domingos Duarte.

But Saul Niguez’s shot was brilliantly saved by Rui Silva, with Felix booting the ball into the stand in frustration, suggesting he might have been keen to take it.

Atletico’s dominance briefly subsided and Granada might have gone in level at half-time, their best chance falling to Victor Diaz, who was denied at close range by Jan Oblak.

 

Atletico Madrid’s Uruguayan forward Luis Suarez (C) scores a goal during the Spanish league football match Club Atletico de Madrid against Granada FC at the Wanda Metropolitano stadium in Madrid on September 27, 2020. GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP

 

Instead, the visitors fell away in the second half as the excellent Felix set up one and then scored another. First, he picked out Correa at the back post with a curling pass and then finished himself, coming inside after a clever dummy by Costa.

That was Costa’s last significant contribution before he departed for Suarez, the Uruguayan coming on in the 70th minute.

He was set up a fourth in the 72nd minute, a cushioned pass on the volley allowing Llorente to find the corner.

Suarez then powered in a header at the back post from Llorente’s cross before Granada pulled one back through Jorge Molina. But Suarez was not finished, his shot from outside the area cannoned back off the post, but he reached the rebound first.

AFP

Atletico Madrid Announce Signing Of Luis Suarez From Barcelona

Barcelona’s Uruguayan forward Luis Suarez controls the ball during the UEFA Champions League quarter-final football match against Bayern Munich at the Luz stadium in Lisbon on August 14, 2020. Manu Fernandez / POOL / AFP

 

Atletico Madrid announced the signing of Barcelona forward Luis Suarez late on Wednesday, confirming the Uruguayan striker is set to continue playing in La Liga rather than joining Juventus in Italy.

Barcelona said that Atletico had agreed to pay six million euros for Suarez, who left his last training session in tears on Wednesday having been told over the summer that he was no longer required by new coach Ronald Koeman.

Since joining Barca from Liverpool in 2014, Suarez has won a host of trophies, including the 2015 Champions League and four Liga titles.

He leaves as the club’s third-highest scorer with 198 goals behind Cesar Rodriguez (232) and Lionel Messi (634).

The move to Barcelona’s La Liga rivals follows a failed attempt to join Juventus.

Juve coach Andrea Pirlo disclosed last week a deal was unlikely because of delays in the Uruguayan’s bid to get an Italian passport.

On Tuesday, prosecutors in Perugia said they suspected Suarez of cheating to pass his Italian language test with the aid of examiners suspected of helping him.

The exit of the 33-year-old from Camp Nou comes as Koeman attempts to reshape Barcelona.

As well as Suarez, the Dutchman has shown the exit to Arturo Vidal and Ivan Rakitic, while French defender Samuel Umtiti is also set to leave.

Spanish television channel Gol showed Suarez wiping away tears with his sleeve as he drove off after saying his last goodbyes to teammates at Barcelona’s Sant Joan Despi training centre.

Barcelona’s Luis Suarez Suspected Of Cheating In Italian Exam

File photo: Barcelona’s Uruguayan forward Luis Suarez gustures during the Spanish league football match between Real Betis and FC Barcelona at the Benito Villamarin stadium in Seville on March 17, 2019. JORGE GUERRERO / AFP

 

Barcelona forward Luis Suarez is suspected of cheating to pass his Italian language test with the help of his teachers, the Perugia prosecutor’s department in charge of the investigation said on Tuesday.

The Italian exam was a first step required in order to receive a passport ahead of a possible transfer to Juventus, a move which has seen been abandoned.

“The investigation showed that the subjects discussed during the exam were agreed beforehand with the candidate and that the grade was awarded to him even before the test,” the prosecutor’s department said in a statement.

File photo: Barcelona’s Uruguayan forward Luis Suarez (L) celebrates after scoring during the Spanish league football match SD Eibar against FC Barcelona at the Ipurua stadium in Eibar on October 19, 2019. STRINGER / AFP

 

Local prosecutor Raffaele Cantone, a former head of Italy’s National Anti-Corruption Authority, had been carrying out an investigation since February into University for Foreigners officials over various irregularities. Suspicions over Suarez were aroused by an overheard conversation.

“But what do you think, that we’re going to fail him? Today I have the last lesson (with Suarez) and I have to prepare it because he barely speaks a word” of Italian, Stefania Spina, one of the people targeted by the investigation, is claimed to have said according to prosecution documents cited by Italian media.

Asked by a colleague what level Suarez “should pass” in Italian, Spina reportedly replied: “He should not, he must, he will pass, because with a salary of 10 million (euros) per season, you can’t make him fail” his exam, “even if he doesn’t know how to conjugate verbs and speak in the infinitive.”

Juventus coach Andrea Pirlo said last week a proposed deal for Suarez was unlikely to go ahead because of delays in the Uruguayan’s bid to get an Italian passport.

The Italian champions cannot recruit Suarez otherwise because they have already reached their quota for non-EU players.

AFP

Suarez Set For Another Knee Surgery

Team doctors attend Barcelona’s Uruguayan forward Luis Suarez after resulting injured during the Spanish league football match between RCD Espanyol and FC Barcelona at the RCDE Stadium in Cornella de Llobregat on January 4, 2020. PAU BARRENA / AFP

 

Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez will undergo another knee operation on Sunday, Barcelona have announced. 

The club issued a press release Saturday saying the surgery was for an “injury to the external meniscus of the right knee”.

It will not be his first knee operation.

Last May, Suarez missed the last two league games and the Spanish cup final, which Barcelona lost to Valencia, so he could have an operation on his right knee and recover in time to play for Uruguay in the Copa America in Brazil.

Suarez also underwent knee surgery in May 2014, returning in time to score twice against England at the end of June in the World Cup.

Suarez played on Thursday as Barcelona lost the semi-final of the Spanish Super Cup to Atletico Madrid in Jeddah.

The 32-year-old has made 23 appearances for Barcelona this season, scoring 14 goals (11 in the league and three in the Champions League). He also leads La Liga with seven assists.

Barcelona top La Liga and face Napoli in the round of 16 of the Champions League.

“Once the intervention is over the club will make a new medical statement,” Barcelona’s statement said.

Pogba Always Welcome At Barca, Says Suarez

Barcelona’s Uruguayan forward Luis Suarez celebrates after scoring a penalty during the Spanish league football match between FC Barcelona and SD Huesca at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on September 2, 2018. LLUIS GENE / AFP

 

Luis Suarez believes Paul Pogba should be challenging for more trophies than he is at Manchester United and would always be welcome at Barcelona. 

Pogba has endured a turbulent two years since returning to Old Trafford for a then world-record fee of 105 million euros ($121.7) and his relationship with coach Jose Mourinho has become strained.

The 25-year-old rediscovered his best form away from his club, for France in the summer, when he inspired Les Bleus to World Cup glory in Russia, beating Uruguay and Suarez on the way.

But since Alex Ferguson retired in 2013, United have failed to go close in either the Premier League or Champions League, while Barca has won three La Ligas in that time and the Champions League once.

“Pogba is an elite player who has won everything and we always want to have the best,” Suarez told RAC1 on Tuesday.

“He is a player that has a lot of quality and who is one of the key players at United, and I think he would like to compete for more than he is competing for now.

“But that’s how it is, he does not belong to Barcelona but he will always be welcome.”

One Champions League crown in five years, however, represents a disappointing return for Barca, particularly while rivals Real Madrid have dominated the tournament, winning it three times in a row.

Lionel Messi, now captain after Andres Iniesta´s departure, has expressed his own desire to make amends, with the striker also coming off the back of a harrowing World Cup with Argentina.

“He’s really motivated, even more so after the World Cup and the Champions League,” Suarez said.

“But it’s a really difficult competition to win and Messi can’t win it on his own. It has to be a team effort, as good as he is.

“Obviously it’s infuriating for us because Madrid has won the Champions League in each of the last three years. They have made history and it’s a thorn in our side.”

Overworked

One criticism leveled at coach Ernesto Valverde last season was that he overworked his players in La Liga, despite Barca enjoying a significant advantage at the top.

Suarez shoulders the blame too, pinpointing a league victory against Leganes when he played 90 minutes, three days before they were beaten in Europe by Roma.

“When you pass 30 you begin to realise there are times when you have to rest,” Suarez said.

“I regret a lot the game against Leganes at home when we had a big lead in La Liga and the quarter-final with Roma three days later. I played the whole game and you get a bit tired.

“You have to manage things to be at your best in the big games. I think the coach is seeing those little details.”

Suarez turned 31 in January and scored 25 league goals last term. He would like to finish his career at the Camp Nou but admits it will be difficult.

“It’s complicated,” Suarez said. “Look at players like Xavi and Andres (Iniesta), they are players who have been ingrained in the club but they have not been able to finish here.

“I am aware the day I do not have the level to play for Barca I would have to leave but the desire of every player is to end here.”

AFP

Uruguay Coach Praises Suarez During Training

Uruguay’s forward Luis Suarez takes part in a training session at Ekaterinburg Stadium in Ekaterinburg on June 14, 2018, a day ahead of the team’s Russia 2018 World Cup Group A opening football match against Egypt. Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP

 

Luis Suarez has “matured a great deal” and is primed to lead Uruguay’s assault on the World Cup, coach Oscar Tabarez said on the eve of their opening game in Russia.

Barcelona striker Suarez, a controversial figure who has had numerous run-ins with football authorities throughout his career, was thrown out of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and subsequently banned for biting Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini.

It was his third biting ban and cemented his place as one of the bad boys — albeit a supremely talented one — of world football.

But now 31 and happily settled and scoring goals at the Camp Nou, Tabarez believes Uruguay are seeing the best of Suarez as a player and a person.

“Luis Suarez is no doubt more mature now and he has matured a great deal,” said Tabarez, the 71-year-old veteran who leads a Uruguayan side tipped as possible finalists in Russia by some.

“What happened in Brazil is part of real life and of course a lesson to achieve more maturity not only as a footballer but also in other parts of his life, such as his family.

“He’s got the right mindset for this World Cup and he is meeting all my expectations. In addition to being a great player, he is very smart, very intelligent and we are going to really capitalise on him.”

AFP

Barcelona Extend La Liga Lead With Suarez’s Brace

Barcelona’s Uruguayan forward Luis Suarez celebrates after scoring a goal during the Spanish league football match Leganes vs Barcelona at the Butarque stadium in Leganes on November 18, 2017. OSCAR DEL POZO / AFP

Luis Suarez ended a five-game goal drought with a double as Barcelona extend their lead at the top of La Liga with a flattering 3-0 win at Leganes on Saturday.

Barca now lead second-placed Valencia by seven points ahead of their trip to Mestalla next weekend, with both Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid 11 points adrift before they face off in the Madrid derby later on Saturday (1945 GMT).

However, two simple Suarez finishes from close range either side of half-time and Paulinho’s late tap-in glossed over another under-par performance from Ernesto Valverde’s men, who were again thankful to a fine display from goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

Despite tougher tests to come this week with a trip to Juventus in the Champions League on Wednesday before Valencia, Valverde named his strongest available side.

– Refreshed Suarez –

Suarez was refreshed after sitting out international duty with Uruguay over the past fortnight and had the ball in the net after just four minutes, but Jordi Alba had already been flagged for offside as he supplied the cross for the former Liverpool striker.

Leganes have enjoyed a fine start to just their second ever season in the Spanish top flight and a repeat of the 5-0 thrashing Barca dished out on their visit to Butarque last season was never likely as the hosts went onto enjoy the better of the opening half.

The busy Nordin Ambrabat fired a shot over a positive run at the Barca defence before Gabriel Pires also dragged an effort wide when well-placed at the edge of the box.

However, Leganes’ good work in the opening half hour was undone by a goalkeeping error when Ivan Cuellar limply palmed Paco Alcacer’s driven cross into the path of the grateful Suarez to smash home his first goal for a month.

Barca’s joy was tempered moments later when Gerard Pique was booked for bringing down Amrabat meaning he will be suspended for next weekend’s clash at Valencia.

Amrabat was the creator once more for Leganes’ best chance before the break when he released Alexander Szymanowski inside the area, but the Argentine’s curling effort was turned to safety by the in-form Ter Stegen.

The German goalkeeper was called into action again early in the second period when Leganes substitute Claudio Beauvue was too quick for the Barca defence only to fire straight at Ter Stegen.

In contrast, just as in the first-half, Barca were ruthlessly efficient in front of goal to double their lead on the hour mark.

Lionel Messi’s dinked pass released Alcacer and after Cuellar parried his first effort, Suarez drilled home the rebound for his second of the afternoon.

Barca rode their luck to hold out for a 12th clean sheet in their last 17 games as Ter Stegen saved one-on-one from Amrabat and Beauvue blasted well over when unmarked 10 yards out.

However, Barca piled more pressure on the chasing Atletico and Real ahead of the Madrid derby and rubbed salt into Leganes’ wounds when Paulinho rolled into an empty net when a loose ball broke off Messi in stoppage time.

AFP

Cristiano Ronaldo Crowned FIFA Player Of The Year

Cristano RonaldoCristiano Ronaldo has been crowned FIFA Men’s Player Of The Year.

Ronaldo was announced winner on Monday in Zurich where the world’s best football players and coaches were recognised at the inaugural edition of “The Best Fifa Football Awards”.

The Ballon Dór winner beat Antoine Griezmann and Lionel Messi to win the award which was presented by FIFA President, Gianni Infantino.

“Wow. It’s incredible. It’s not the first time but this award is the first time.

“I want first to thank my team-mates, my coach. I want to thank my family, my whole staff.

“I tell you, 2016 was the best year of my career. I had a lot of doubts but the trophy showed that I lived up to that.

“After I won what I did, I had no doubts.

“It was a year that was magnificent on a personal level, on a sports level. I would like to thank very warmly everybody who voted for me.

“To the fans, to the other players, to the media: thank you,” he said.

Other winners on the night:

– The Best FIFA Women’s Player Award: Carli Lloyd.

– The Best FIFA Men’s Coach Award: Claudio Ranieri.

– The Best FIFA Women’s Coach Award: Silvia Neid.

– The FIFA Puskás Award 2016: Mohd Faiz Subri.

The FIFA Fair Play Award: Atletico National.

– The FIFA Fan Award: Dortmund fans and Liverpool fans.

– The FIFA lifetime achievement award: Falcao.

– The FIFA FIFPro World11: Neuer, Dani Alves, Pique, Ramos, Marcelo, Modric, Kroos, Iniesta, Messi, Suarez, Ronaldo.

 

Griezmann Brace Knocks Barcelona Out Of Champions League

Atletico-Madrid beat Barcelona Barcelona has been sent out of the Champion League by Atletico Madrid after they lost 2-0 at Vicente Calderón.

Two goals from Antoine Griezmann were enough for the Madrid side to go through to the Semi-finals with a 3-2 goal aggregate.

The Madrid side opened scoring at the 36th minute when Saul Niguez, on the right-hand corner of the Barca box, flicks a gorgeous cross towards Griezmann with the outside of his boot.

The ball falls perfectly for Griezmann, and he powered an unstoppable header into the top right, leaving Ter Stegen with no chance.

Barcelona fought hard to pull one back but the Madrid defence took in all pressure mounted.

The first half ended with the with a 2-2 aggregate, with Atletico Madrid looking good to go through on away goals.

In the second half, pressure on the Madrid defence increased as Barcelona made several attempts to level and secure a chance of going through.

At the 87th minute a break by Filipe Luis, who powered down the inside-left channel and enters the box resulted in a penalty.

He looked to slip the ball right towards Griezmann, but Iniesta dived on the penalty spot to stop the pass reaching the man with his hand and the referee pointed to the white spot. The Madrid side clamoured for a red card but no card was given.

Grizemann came up to take the spot kick and threaded the ball into the bottom right, to put Atletico ahead on aggregate.

With the 2-0 cushion and a 3-2 aggregate against the defending champions, Atletico sailed through to the Semi-final of the game joining city rivals, Real Madrid and Manchester City.

Champions League: Arsenal Must Attack Barcelona – Mertesacker

ArsenalPer Mertesacker says Arsenal can rediscover their “killer instinct” by attacking Barcelona at the Nou Camp.

The Gunners head into the second leg of the Champions League last-16 tie having lost 2-0 at Emirates Stadium in February.

Arsène Wenger’s side were knocked out of the FA Cup by Watford on Sunday, but Mertesacker believes a strong attacking performance in Barcelona can get their season back on track.

“You have to give us credit because we kept going against Watford and created chance after chance,” he said. “But at the moment we lack that killer instinct. We need to work on that if we want to be successful in the Premier League and the Champions League.

“We were not relaxed against Watford. Even in the box we played and always found good positions, with the man in the right position but we lacked that relaxation even to hit the target. We did not do that sometimes. We missed it too often.

“We cannot afford to concede against Barcelona. We have to go there and try to attack, no matter what, that is the only possibility we have. We can be fortunate to have such big game in front of us.

“They are the ultimate team at the minute, so we are straight away under pressure and we have to go away from home. I think the confidence is there, we are just missing something.

“The season is not over. We play in a confident way, we maybe lack that bit at the end. The desire to play together and to be good as a team is there, you can feel that.”