Suarez is having surgery on his right knee on Sunday, the second-straight season the ex-Liverpool man has required a procedure on his knee.
It’s not as simple as copying and pasting that recovery time, as he went under the knife with just three matches left in the La Liga season. His first missed match was May 4 and the Copa del Rey final was May 25.
Barcelona has been linked with forwards in the transfer window as the club looks to firm up both La Liga and UEFA Champions League credentials.
The Uruguayan has 14 goals and 11 assists in 23 matches this season. He’s scored at least 20 goals in a season every year since 2011/12, his first season with Liverpool.
From the international angle, Uruguay begins World Cup qualifying on March 26 versus Chile.
With a late goal from Wu Lei, Espanyol pulled off a stunning 2-2 derby draw against league leaders and rival Barcelona, who failed to regain their two-point lead at the top of La Liga on Saturday at RCDE Stadium.
Luis Suarez leveled the score with a right-footed, leaping volley in the 50th minute and assisted Arturo Vidal only nine minutes later with a superlative outside-of-the-boot cross well within the box. The Uruguayan ace has either scored or assisted in Barcelona’s last 10 league goals.
Espanyol, playing under newly-appointed manager Abelardo for the first time ever, made it difficult to believe that it was a derby between the best team in the Spanish league against the worst. Los Periquitos came out confident and poised, drawing first blood 23 minutes after David Lopez’s zoomed passed Neto.
The hosts went into halftime up a goal, and even though Barcelona benefited from Arturo Vidal’s inclusion, Espanyol fought back.
Chinese star Lei sent the home fans over the moon after striking the back of the net against a Frenkie de Jong-less, 10-man Barcelona with a minute to play in regular time.
With only a goal differential advantage on Real Madrid, Barcelona host Atletico Madrid on Thursday in the Supercopa semifinal. Espanyol, on the other hand, look to carry their positive momentum to their second round Copa del Rey bout in a weeks time.
On Saturday at the Camp Nou, Barcelona demonstrated what they can be on a good day: a dangerous force, spearheaded by an unstoppable front three.
After a sloppy 0-0 draw against Real Madrid, the defending champions came out firing against a visiting Alaves side. The star-studded trio of Lionel Messi, Antoine Griezmann, Luis Suarez scored, while Arturo Vidal also scored.
In the 56th minute, Pere Pons’ unstoppable header jetted past Marc-Andre ter Stegen, putting the visitors one goal behind Ernesto Valverde and company.
It wouldn’t take long for the hosts to respond, however.
In quintessential Messi fashion, Barcelona’s No. 10 struck the ball from distance with his left foot. The ball, traveling with obvious pace, guided itself directly into the back of the net. For a sixth consecutive year, Messi’s goal count has hit 50 goals.
“All matches require a lot,” Valverde said after the match. “When they scored, they were spurred on and they had the chance to equalise, but Leo scored a great goal and things are seen in a different way from there.
“I think we played the game well, I would say the first half was very good, then we had less momentum at the beginning of the second. We got a boost with the third goal.
“These things happen with Messi. We see it all the time. Something like that can happen, and it’s a huge advantage that we have Messi.”
“Leo appears and makes you a goal from anywhere,” he added.
Suarez capped off the night, converting from the spot and earning Barcelona a much-needed victory to stay atop of La Liga.
Barcelona now prepares for the Derbi Barceloní, while Alaves sets their sights on Real Betis.
If Real Madrid manages to walk away from Mestalla with three points, they’ll dethrone nemesis Barcelona and become clear-cut leaders of La Liga.
Just days before El Clasico itself, a rare 2-2 draw from Barcelona against hosts Real Sociedad is the reason behind Los Blancos’ prime opportunity.
Former Borussia Dortmund starlet Alexander Isak tapped in his fourth goal of the season in the 62nd minute, leveling the score for Sociedad and sending the home fans into a frenzy.
In true Barcelona fashion, Real Sociedad, ironically hit the ground running first.
After earning a foul inside the box from a corner kick set piece, Reala captain Mikel Oyarzabal converted from the spot, putting Sociedad, who have exceeded expectations this season under first-year manager Imanol Alguacil, up against the defending champions.
It wouldn’t take long before the visitors responded, however.
A familiar face and experienced goalscorer at Anoeta, it was the ideal scenario for Antoine Griezmann to shake off some pressure that has been a key talking point surrounding the Frenchman lately. Darting inside the box with only Alex Remiro to beat, No. 17 – like in the old days – carefully chipped the ball over Remiro and into the back of the net the ball wandered.
If the second half indicated anything early on it was that it was going to be difficult for Barcelona to drop points on Saturday. Unselfish as ever before, Lionel Messi laid off the ball to an unmarked Luis Suarez, who his team up 2-1 four minutes into the second half.
A lack of control of possession and, most notably, an unstable defensive line, would end up costing Barcelona two points.
Next for Barcelona is the game of the season: a league bout against Real Madrid on Wednesday, while Real Sociedad travel to Becerril in the second round of Copa del Rey.
Elsewhere Atletico Madrid 2-0 Osasuna
Granada 1-2 Levante
Atheltic Bilbao 0-0 Eibar
Fresh from winning the Ballon d’Or for a record sixth time, Lionel Messi was greeted by his three children on the field, who handed him a shinny, golden ball – given yearly to the best player in the world – prior to the first whistle.
From that point on, it was evident that it would be all smiles for everyone tied to the defending champions at the stadium (and for those watching remotely) on Saturday.
That was the case.
Antoine Griezmann – a topic of conversation due to lack of productivity at Barcelona this season – kicked off the game with a solo run and subsequent goal in the seventh minute, opening the floodgates.
As a celebration of his latest, individual accomplishment, Messi showcased the power and precision of his left foot at the tune of a hat-trick. The Argentine ace scored twice in the first half and another in consolation time, putting his season total mark at a league-best 12 goals.
The moment and goal of the night (possibly of the season) didn’t directly involve Messi, however. With a daring, emphatic and genius back-heel strike, not only did Luis Suarez put the home side up 4-1, but cemented himself in the ballot for best goal of the season.
With 34 and a better goal differential than Real Madrid, Barcelona remain atop of La Liga ahead of their clash with Inter Milan on Tuesday, while Mallorca hope Ante Budimir can score another brace; this time against a struggling Celta Vigo next weekend.
Real Madrid 2-0 Espanyol
With goals from Karim Benzema and Raphael Varane, Real Madrid comfortably cruised past a struggling Espanyol.
With the majority of Real Madrid in Espanyol’s final third following a recovered free-kick attempt, Benzema charged his way into the box before laying off a ball to Varane, who not a proven goalscorer whatsoever, placed the ball into the back of the net with ease.
It was the 37th minute, and the home side were up 1-0 against a poor Espanyol.
With a notable superior style at hand, Los Blancos continued to surge forward. Opportunities at goal were generated but the ball wouldn’t go past ex-Real Madrid ‘keeper Diego Lopez.
Then, in the 79th minute, Benzema registered his 11th goal of the season, finishing an off-balance pass from Federico Valverde inside the box.
Winners in their last La Liga bouts, Real Madrid now prepare for their Champions League Group Stage finale against Club Brugge midweek. Espanyol, despite being in the drop zone, host CSKA Moscow in their Europa League Group Stage finale. The Catalonian club lead Group H with 11 points after five matches.