‘His contribution is always huge’: Ernesto Valverde defends Luis Suarez after Barcelona star fails to end 343-day Champions League goal drought
- Luis Suarez has now gone 343 days without scoring a Champions League goal
- He failed to net in Barcelona’s 5-1 win over Lyon but he did provide two assists
- After the game manager Ernesto Valverde defended him over his goal drought
Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde defended Luis Suarez over his extraordinary record of having gone 343 days without scoring a Champions League goal.
Suarez still hasn’t netted in Europe this season and only scored once in the last Champions League campaign.
But he played a big part in Barcelona beating Lyon 5-1 on Wednesday, winning a penalty for the opener and setting up Philippe Coutinho for the second.
Luis Suarez impressed his manager but did not end his European goal drought on Wednesday
Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde praised Suarez after his side beat Lyon 5-1 at the Nou Camp
Valverde said: ‘Tomorrow people will reel off the statistic about him not having scored but that does not take into account the way he played.
‘He doesn’t take the penalty that he wins and he passes to Coutinho for the goal. His contribution is always huge.’
Suarez defended Coutinho after he was whistled by home supporters in the Camp Nou on Saturday. Against Lyon he did him a huge favour when he teed him up for his first Champions League goal in the Camp Nou despite being in to finish himself.
Valverde was pleased with Coutinho’s display. He said: ‘It was an important game for Coutinho because of what it meant for the club.
‘He has had some difficult moments in some games but he has responded well in other games and we hope he will give much more between now and the end of the season.’
Although he didn’t score himself, Suarez set up Philippe Coutinho for Barcelona’s second goal
Suarez also won a first-half penalty, from which Lionel Messi gave the hosts an early lead
Asked about the presence of four English teams in the quarter-finals, Valverde added: ‘I am not going to say who I do not want in the draw because we will get them for sure!
‘The Premier League has a very high level so it should not surprise us. It’s not normal that we are only the only team from La Liga but other seasons it has gone the other way.’
The Barcelona boss also said it would be an ‘extraordinary game’ if the draw threw-up a Cristiano Ronaldo versus Messi game in the next rounds.
Messi seemed to drag the team over the line when they wobbled after Lyon scored.
Valverde added: ‘Football is a game of emotions. There is something fundamental about Leo in terms of what he transmits to the supporters and what he transmits to the opposition when he starts to run at you. And I speak from experience.’
Valverde looked happy as he watched his side book a place in the Champions League last eight
Striker Suarez applauded former Liverpool team-mate Coutinho after setting him up for a goal