Luis Suarez Says Barcelona Must ‘Self-Evaluate’ Following Narrow 3-2 Victory Against Rayo Vallecano

?Barcelona striker Luis Suarez has claimed that Barcelona must analyse themselves after they came within minutes of suffering a deserved defeat at the hands of Rayo Vallecano on Saturday.

Suarez, on the back of a hat trick against Real Madrid, opened the scoring for Barcelona, only for Rayo Vallecano to fight back and take a well-deserved 2-1 lead. Late goals from Suarez and Ousmane Dembele won all three points for Barcelona, but they were certainly outplayed by Rayo Vallecano, who managed more shots and dribbles than their superstar opponents.

Rayo Vallecano v FC Barcelona - La Liga Santander

Speaking after the game, the Uruguayan admitted that ?Barcelona had underestimated their opponents. He is quoted by ?Marca as saying: “It may be that there was an excess of confidence.

“We also have to give credit to the opponent, who are in need of points.

“The important thing was that we turned it around and got the three points, now we have to self-evaluate.”

Rayo Vallecano v FC Barcelona - La Liga Santander

The former ?Liverpool striker then added that he was pleased to be scoring some crucial goals, but the overall performance of the team is the most important thing.

He said: “You try to help the team to win points. It was just one of those nights when it worked out and I scored the goals to help the team.”

?Suarez, like the rest of his Barcelona teammates, has come under close scrutiny as a result of ?Lionel Messi’s injury. During his absence from the side, fans hoped the likes of Suarez, ?Dembele and Philippe Coutinho would step up and lead the side, and Suarez has certainly not disappointed.

Rayo Vallecano de Madrid v FC Barcelona - La Liga

The 31-year-old now has nine goals and six assists from his 15 appearances this season, and has been a huge part of the reason why Barcelona currently find themselves top of the ?La Liga table.

He will be hoping to continue his electric run of form when Barcelona travel to the San Siro to face ?Inter, in what has the potential to be a decisive match in Group B of the Champions League.

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Safe Hands: Why Marc-Andre ter Stegen Should be Considered One of the World’s Greatest Goalkeepers

We are constantly reminded of the fact that goalkeepers are no longer simply the last line of defence. 

The 21st century has seen the men between the sticks evolve into something much more? – integral members of a cohesive unit whose roles extend well beyond the simplicity of keeping the ball out of the back of net.

FC Barcelona v Sevilla FC - La Liga

This summer’s transfer window proves that. Plenty of teams were willing to spend the big bucks to bring in the right keeper. Someone whose distributive skills match their handling – keepers who can effect rather than react.

But that raises a difficult question and one that tends to spark endless debate depending on who you ask: Who exactly is the best goalkeeper in the world?

Valencia CF v FC Barcelona - La Liga

Quantifying the best outfield players is simple. Statistics can speak for themselves and high goal tallys often lead to preferable opinions.

But goalkeepers don’t get that same treatment and rightly so. Conceded goals can be misleading, communication skills are difficult to analyse and distribution can be utilised in entirely differently depending on a team’s preferred style of play.

There are plenty of candidates that could be considered the world’s best, but one goalkeeper has recently emerged from the pack, seemingly from nowhere – ?Marc-Andre ter Stegen.


The perception of the German stopper has been somewhat tarnished by the fact that, in recent years, his name has become synonymous with that of a second string keeper.

After joining ?Barcelona from his boyhood club Borussia Monchengladbach in 2014, it took some time before he could be considered the true number one at Camp Nou, playing second fiddle to the experienced Claudio Bravo for his first two seasons.

In fact, the German stopper very nearly left just two years later with the club having to make a decision over who should be tasked with carrying the number one jersey. 

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Ter Stegen won that battle and has gone on to improve immeasurably, making the number one jersey at Barcelona his own.

His athleticism and reactions are fine tuned to the point of near perfection, his shoulders have broadened to fill the shirt and his skills with the ball at his feet can rival even the most fleet footed of midfielders. 

But what makes him stand above the rest is his ability to have a profound effect on matches, winning points all by himself – whilst the likes of ?Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez are still on the pitch.

Barcelona v Girona - La Liga

His performance during Barca’s 2-0 win over Sevilla in October accentuated everything brilliant about his game and the two double saves he made in the second half were nothing short of jaw-dropping.

Whilst it is hard to dispute the fact that ?David De Gea and ?Thibaut Courtois are sensational goalkeepers in their own right, their reactive skills often bail them out of situations that could otherwise be avoided by a more practical approach.

In particular, their distribution skills simply cannot match that of Ter Stegen’s, especially as Barcelona look to engage the German at every possible opportunity they get.

Manchester United v Everton FC - Premier League

Simply put, there are no other keepers who fit their club’s footballing philosophy quite like Ter Stegen.

But can someone with just 23 caps for their national team really be considered the best in the world?

Ter Stegen has had the misfortune of playing at the same time as one ?Manuel Neuer, which has seriously restricted his opportunities for the senior Germany squad.

France v Germany - UEFA Nations League A

The ?Bayern Munich stopper’s unorthodox approach to goalkeeping is somewhat divisive but is ultimately effective and Germany’s long-term manager, Joachim Lowe, has stuck by him ever since he made his debut back in 2009.

Whilst Neuer is still undoubtedly an excellent goalkeeper and has done very little to suggest he should be dropped from the Germany setup, now seems like the time for Ter Stegen to make the step up and become the automatic first choice.

When Barcelona made the decision to keep Ter Stegen at the club back in 2016, it could have been one of their most important in recent memory. Without him between the sticks, the past few years may have taken an entirely different path.

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At 26-years-old, the frightening thing for strikers across Europe is that the best may still be yet to come.

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Lionel Messi Could Feature in Champions League Clash With Inter After Rapid Recovery From Injury

?Lionel Messi could be in contention for Barcelona’s trip to Inter on Wednesday after making a miraculous recovery from a broken arm.

Messi was taken off during Barcelona’s 2-0 win over Sevilla on October 20th and has missed out on all of the Catalan giant’s recent games, which included a 5-1 thumping of Real Madrid in El Clasico.

FC Barcelona v Sevilla - La Liga Santander

According to Spanish news outlet ?Marca, ?Messi could be making a sensational return to action on Wednesday, just 17 days after picking up the injury against Sevilla. 

Whilst Messi could be available for the match, there is no word yet as to whether ?Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde will be willing to risk him in such a crucial game.

Valverde has already discussed Messi’s situation, stating, as per the? Daily Express: “If Messi was ready tomorrow, he’d be there and we would be stronger.

“He gives us that differential factor and we maintain the block and the sense of the team. So, the only thing with Leo is the affect it could have on his injury. We want him back. With Leo, we’re better.

“The team’s form is not making me more cautious with Leo – I’m being cautious because of injury he has.”

Barcelona are sitting pretty at the top of their Champions League group after picking up a maximum of nine points from their opening three matches and they know that just a point against ?Inter will be enough to confirm their spot in the knockout stages of the competition.

FC Barcelona v FC Internazionale - UEFA Champions League Group B

Whether or not Valverde opts to risk Messi on Wednesday, the diminutive Argentinean will almost certainly be ready for Barcelona’s La Liga clash against Real Betis next weekend.

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Rayo Vallecano 2-3 Barcelona: Report, Ratings & Reaction as Late Suarez Goal Spares Barca’s Blushes

A 90th minute Luis Suarez goal earned Barcelona a dramatic win as they edged a struggling Rayo Vallecano side 3-2 in La Liga.

The visitors made a fast start and it took them just 10 minutes to get their noses in front. Jordi Alba found himself in some space on the left side of the six yard box, before cutting the ball back to an on-rushing Suarez who neatly tucked the ball past Alberto Garcia and into the bottom corner.

Rayo Vallecano v FC Barcelona - La Liga Santander

Despite going behind, the home side grew into the game and missed a golden opportunity on the half hour mark to draw level after Jose Pozo’s effort narrowly missed the target. However, Pozo redeemed himself just five minutes later with a fantastic strike from the edge of the area, beating Marc-Andre ter Stegen at his far post to get his side back on level terms at 1-1.

It was then Vallecano who took a shock lead 15 minutes into the second half after Raul De Tomas’ header came off the inside of the post and landed at the feet of substitute Alvaro Garcia – having only been on the pitch a matter of seconds – who then tucked the ball into an empty net to give ?La Liga’s 19th placed side a shock lead against the league leaders.

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After a sustained spell of pressure, ?Barcelona finally found their equaliser as substitute Ousmane Dembele coolly slotted home with three minutes remaining, before who else but Suarez got on the end of a searching Sergi Roberto cross at the back post and tapped home to get a very late winning goal.


RAYO VALLECANO

Player Ratings

Starting XI: Garcia (5); Advincula (6), Amat (5), Galvez (7), Moreno (6); Imbula (6), Comesana (6), Trejo (6); Embarba (6), Pozo (7), De Tomas (6).

Substitutes: Garcia (8), Alegria (5), Velazquez (6).


BARCELONA

Key Talking Point

After what was arguably Barcelona’s finest performance of the season last week when they beat bitter rivals ?Real Madrid 5-1 in El Clasico at the Nou Camp, the Barcelona side today looked a shadow of that team.

Rayo Vallecano v FC Barcelona - La Liga Santander

After they went ahead after 10 minutes it looked like it was going to be a formality for Ernesto Valverde’s men, however it proved to be anything but that. Vallecano caused the defence problems on the counter attack all game and took a shock lead, with Barca struggling to create any clear cut chances in the second half.

Barca showed character to come back from behind with two late goals, however it was far from a perfect performance from the league leaders and there’ll be plenty to work on in training this coming week.


Player Ratings

Starting XI: ter Stegen (6); Roberto (8), Pique (8), Lenglet (6), Alba (7); Arthur (6), Busquets (6), Rakitic (6); Rafinha (7), Suarez (9*), Coutinho (6).

Substitutes: Dembele (8), Munir (7), Vidal (6).


STAR MAN – He’s been on red hot form in recent weeks, and ?Suarez continued to impress helping his side to another win. He bagged his fifth and sixth goals in his last three La Liga games with a real poacher’s effort, and could’ve made it seven had it not been for the upright denying what would’ve been a fine effort from the edge of the area.

Rayo Vallecano de Madrid v FC Barcelona - La Liga

It was the second league game Barcelona have been without their star man ?Lionel Messi who continues to recover from injury however with Barcelona needing someone to step up and deliver, Suarez has done just that. He was the best player on the pitch and his late winner earned his side a valuable three points after it looked very unlikely at one stage.

WORST PLAYER – He has had a brilliant season to date, however it was a night to forget for Philippe Coutinho. He struggled to create any clear cut chances and rather uncharacteristically gave the ball away cheaply on a number of occasions.

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He couldn’t inspire a comeback for his team whilst on the pitch after they went behind, and his disappointing night was brought to an abrupt end with 20 minutes left after he was subbed off with his side needing a goal. Not his finest performance in a Barcelona shirt.


Looking Ahead

The win was Barcelona’s fifth successive in all competitions, and Valverde will be hoping his men can extend that run to six games when they take on Inter at San Siro in the Champions League on Tuesday night.

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As for Rayo Vallecano, they’ll be bitterly disappointed not to come away with anything after what was a courageous performance, however they’ll take plenty of positives heading into their clash with Villarreal in La Liga on Sunday.?

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Zlatko Dalic Explains How Croatia Silenced Lionel Messi During World Cup Group Stages

Croatia manager Zlatko Dali? has explained that the World Cup runners up worked hard on preventing Lionel Messi from impacting their group stage match against Argentina back in June, on their road to the final at the Luzhniki Stadium.

Dali? guided his side to a 3-0 win over Jorge Sampaoli’s Argentina on matchday two in Group D, with the goals coming courtesy of Ante Rebi?, Luka Modri? and Ivan Rakiti?.

Argentina v Croatia: Group D - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia

The result announced Croatia as serious contenders for the World Cup during the summer, brushing off their ‘dark horse’ tag and all but confirming their place in the knockout stages of the competition.

Head coach Dali? explained that his side focused on exploiting Argentina’s ‘small weaknesses’ to help keep Messi quiet throughout the match.

For me, Leo Messi is the best player in the world, and he is showing that week after week,” Dali? told Goal. “It’s harder for Messi to play for Argentina than Barcelona, and we tried to exploit what we considered small weaknesses in the Argentinian team.

The key was to be disciplined and to follow our tactical game plan fully, and our players did exactly that. We tried to stop the ball from reaching Messi and to contain him quickly in the areas where he likes to receive the ball.

“As good as Messi is, football is a team sport and if one team performs better than the other it’s hard for any individual to turn everything around. Croatia were just a better team than Argentina in that game.”

A number of Croatia’s players were often singled out by their head coach throughout the tournament, most notably Liverpool defender Dejan Lovren.

Argentina v Croatia: Group D - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia

Dali? lauded the 29-year-old as one of the best performing defenders at the World Cup during the summer, although his form hasn’t been able to carry through to the Premier League due to his battle with injury.

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