Tuesday, 7 December, 2021

Suarez deepens Barca crisis

Suarez deepens Barca crisis
Atletico Madrid’s Uruguayan forward Luis Suarez (left) celebrates after scoring a goal during the Spanish League football match against FC Barcelona at Wanda Metropolitano Stadium in Madrid on Saturday. - AFP PHOTO

Luis Suarez piled more misery on Barcelona by scoring in a 2-0 victory for Atletico Madrid on Saturday but Ronald Koeman insists he has the club's support to continue as coach.

Barca president Joan Laporta had said a few hours before kick-off that Koeman would continue as coach "regardless of the result" at the Wanda Metropolitano, but another limp display will put that commitment to the test over the two-week international break.

Koeman confirmed after the game he spoke to Laporta on Friday night and Saturday morning.

He said he welcomed the clarity over his future, which he believes will benefit the team.

Goal scorer Suarez put his hands together and looked up to the sky in what was initially a muted celebration, presumably out of respect for his former club, where he spent six years and scored 198 goals.

But the Uruguayan then made a telephone gesture and appeared to aim it at Koeman, perhaps referencing the abrupt manner Barca's coach told him he was surplus to requirements at Camp Nou, just over a year ago.

Thomas Lemar had already fired Atletico in front and, two down before half-time, Barcelona looked vulnerable to another hammering on the back of successive 3-0 defeats in the Champions League by Bayern Munich and Benfica.

They at least avoided more embarrassment in the second half and it remains to be seen now whether Laporta stays true to his word by giving Koeman more time to turn things around.

Xavi Hernandez, Roberto Martinez and Andrea Pirlo have reportedly been the names under consideration as replacements.

Barca sit ninth, while Atletico's win takes them level on points with Real Madrid at the top of the table.