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Messi time for Suarez & Co


Barcelona will need their attacking firepower against Tottenham at Wembley because clean sheets cannot be guaranteed at the moment

Messie will be back at Wembley this week to face Tottenham. Photo: Sergio Perez/Reuters

Luis Suarez never had a problem scoring in England during his time at Liverpool. Tonight he will be back on English soil hoping to break a Champions League scoring drought that goes back three years.

The Barcelona forward has not scored away from home in the competition since September 2015 when he netted against Roma. Just a few months before he had scored as Barcelona beat Juventus in the Champions League final in Berlin.

Barcelona have not won the competition and Suarez has not scored on his Champions League travels since then.

Ahead of Barcelona’s Group B meeting with Tottenham at Wembley tonight Suarez said: “(Lionel) Messi is the best in the world but we cannot depend on him coming on to provide a solution.”

He was speaking after Messi had been the super-sub in Barcelona’s draw with Athletic Bilbao.

Suarez knows if the team are to reach the final next June at Atletico Madrid’s stadium in the Spanish capital others have to step up.

Messi came off the bench to help Barcelona avoid defeat on Saturday. They fell behind to Athletic Bilbao before the substitute set up Munir El-Haddadi to get the equaliser.

Barcelona will need their attacking firepower against Tottenham at Wembley because clean sheets cannot be guaranteed at the moment.

In La Liga this season Ernesto Valverde’s team has already conceded eight goals.

The team reached the halfway point of the last campaign having only let in nine. The coach will also have to do without right-back Sergi Roberto who is injured and the suspended Samuel Umtiti.

The defensive frailties point towards Valverde opting for the extra muscle of Arturo Vidal in midfield and that will mean Philippe Coutinho will start up front alongside Messi and Suarez.

Despite being top of the league pressure is growing around Valverde. His current contract only runs until the end of this season and the board are in no rush to bring forward negotiations to extend the deal.

He, more than anyone, needs Suarez to find his scoring boots in London.

Things were very different the last time Suarez scored away in the Champions League.

Neymar was still at Barcelona and behind the formidable front three of the Brazilian, the Argentinian and the Uruguayan, Andres Iniesta was pulling the midfield strings.

Before the goal he scored in the final against Juventus, Suarez struck important goals en route to Berlin. He netted twice in Paris as Barcelona saw off Paris Saint Germain and twice at the Etihad against Manchester City.

Not only have Barcelona not returned to the pinnacle of European football since then but Real Madrid have dominated.

Barcelona’s great rivals have lifted the last three European Cups while Barcelona have fallen at the quarter-final stage each year.

They have failed to win at difficult away grounds with Atletico Madrid, Juventus, and last season Roma, proving too much for them.

They only won one match in the Champions League away from home last season and that came from an own-goal from Suarez’ international teammate and former Liverpool teammate Sebastian Coates against Portugal’s Sporting.

Suarez remains Messi’s best friend off the field.

If he gets on the scoresheet at Wembley he can lead the way on that call to not allow the number 10 to carry the team on his own.

– Reuters