Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : February 24th 2015 Contents A55
Tuesday, February 24, 2015 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
MANCHESTER---Luis Suarez s life has
changed considerably since his last
appearance in an English football stadi-
um, when he paraded Anfield holding his
son in his arm after Liverpool missed out
on the league title on the final day of last
In the intervening seven months, he has
bitten another opponent---this time at a
World Cup---to get a four-month world-
wide ban, changed clubs to become the
third most expensive footballer of all time,
and gone from the main man at Liverpool
to one of the supporting cast at Barcelona.
Now he s back in England for today s
Champions League match against Man-
chester City, seeking a first standout game
for Barcelona to emerge---even if only
briefly---from the shadow of the club s star
player, fellow forward Lionel Messi.
"At Liverpool, the team was built around
him," City midfielder Samir Nasri said. "At
Barcelona, you cannot do that when you
have Messi at his prime."
Suarez is the current player of the year
in England after scoring 31 goals in 33 Pre-
mier League games last season. At Barca,
goals have been tougher to come by for
the Uruguay international, with seven from
22 appearances. Indeed, the $130-million
signing has been regarded more as a hard-
working assist-maker than the scoring
machine he turned into in England.
His star-studded combination up front
with Messi and Neymar is starting to blos-
som, however, and Barcelona coach Luis
Enrique is happy with how his Suarez has
"He has been doing really well," Enrique
said yesterday, on the eve of the first leg
of the last-16 match against City.
"It is his first season here and he is a
real reference in attack, a real target man.
He has got virtues that really benefit us.
"He is good on the ball, he allows other
forwards to work around him, he creates
space. He is going to bring a lot to Barcelona
in the future."
Suarez scored only once in six matches
against City for Liverpool, and that was
a free kick. City, though, knew it could
focus largely on Suarez when he was at
Liverpool. Attacking threats will come from
all over in Barca s team on Tuesday,
although primarily from Messi.
After a mid-season slump, in which
doubts were raised about Messi s future
at Barcelona, the Spanish giants looked
back to their best during an 11-match win-
ning run that helped them close the gap
to leader Real Madrid in the Spanish league
and advance to the semifinals of the Copa
A 1-0 La Liga loss to Malaga on Saturday
was an unexpected setback, though, and
Enrique has spent much of the build-up
to the City game playing down suggestions
that problems from earlier in the season
have resurfaced at the Camp Nou.
"The morale is fine. No one is too down,"
a prickly Enrique said. "I don t see why
the team should be down after such a great
run of victories. We didn t do things right
at the weekend. We need to carry on doing
things as we have been."
Enrique said he viewed City, the reigning
English champion, as one of the contenders
for the Champions League trophy even
though it has never advanced beyond the
last 16 of the competition. Barcelona beat
City 4-1 on aggregate at this stage last
"I don t think there is a favorite in this
game," Enrique said.
"City have strengthened in the summer,
we have too. And we have changed. It was
necessary for Barca to move on and bring
in new players.
"What happens on the pitch tomorrow
will show if the gap has closed." (AP)
MILAN---Juventus, once a powerhouse of European
football, is seeking only its second Champions
League last eight appearance since 2006---the year
it was relegated for matchfixing in Serie A---when
it hosts Borussia Dortmund today.
The famous Italian club struggled in the group
stage before finishing second behind Atletico Madrid
and coach Massimiliano Allegri---who replaced Anto-
nio Conte in the summer---hopes his wealth of Cham-
pions League experience, with AC Milan, helps to
keep his team in the competition.
"Our group is strong and has grown steadily over
these past few years," central defender Giorgio Chiellini
said. "Now we also want to show how far we ve
come on the European scene.
"We must approach the Champions League with
enthusiasm, but at the same time be aware of the
responsibility we have in flying the flag for Italy in
Europe." In contrast, Dortmund, which has put its
domestic difficulties aside on the European stage, is
in the last 16 for the third year running after storming
through the group stage, losing only one match to
finish ahead of Arsenal. The German side beat Juventus
when they last met in the 1997 final, Dortmund
claiming its only Champions League title to date.
Here are some things to know about today s first
Juventus may struggle at times on the road in
Europe, but it is a different story in Turin, where it
hopes to exploit its impressive home form to set up
a perfect chance to progress in the return leg.
The Bianconeri have turned their arena into a
fortress since moving to the purpose-built Juventus
Stadium in 2011 and have lost just one of 15 European
home fixtures there. That defeat, however, came
against German visitors with a 2-0 loss to Bayern
Munich in the quarterfinal two years ago. More
impressive is the fact that, since that defeat, Juventus
is unbeaten in 46 home games in all competitions.
Dortmund has a good away record in the com-
petition, having won five of its last seven on the
Juventus moved nine points clear at the top of
Serie A at the weekend and look to be on course for
a fourth successive league title while the outlook is
very different for Dortmund in the Bundesliga.
However, after three successive victories, Dortmund
appears to have recovered after its worst ever league
start and Juergen Klopp s team has climbed out of
the relegation zone.
"It will take a while before we find ourselves in
a different situation in the Bundesliga," Klopp said.
"Until then, the pressure remains. The Champions
League is a whole different story."
Return of Reus
It can be no coincidence that Borussia Dortmund s
resurgence comes as star striker Marco Reus returns
to form following an injury-plagued year.
Reus missed Germany s World Cup triumph last
summer with injury, which hampered him through
the first half of the season. He returned in January
and has racked up three goals and an assist in Dort-
mund s last three matches. Dortmund will be further
boosted by Reus signing a new contract this month
and stating it is his dream to win the league title
with his boyhood club. For now, Reus is fully focused
on the matter in hand.
"It s going to be about which team is more focused,
which team has more desire," he said.
"We have to use the few chances we are going to
get against such a good defensive team. We want to
get a good result for the second leg."
Suarez back in England
...as one of the supporting cast at Barca
Two referees dropped for Premier League matches
in last 16
MILAN---Napoli beat Sassuolo 2-0 at
home to move to within three points of
second-placed Roma in Serie A yesterday.
Duvan Zapata and Marek Hamsik linked
up for the goals, with both getting on the
scoresheet in the second half.
Napoli was forced to play the final 18
minutes with 10 men after substitute Dries
Mertens was shown a straight red card less
than six minutes after coming off the bench.
Napoli consolidated third spot as it went
five points clear of fourth-placed Lazio in
the race for the final Champions League
Rafa Benitez s side can move level with
Roma this weekend when it plays Torino
on Sunday, 24 hours before the capital side
hosts league leader Juventus.
Inter Milan visits relegation-threatened
Sassuolo had a miserable start to the
match as it was forced to replace injured
defenders Luca Antei and former Napoli
captain Paolo Cannavaro in the opening 22
Napoli wasted a plethora of chances in
the first half while Domenico Berardi also
went close and should have put Sassuolo
ahead shortly after the interval but fired
narrowly wide of the left post.
Napoli broke the deadlock in the 61st
minute when Zapata latched onto Hamsik s
He slipped after his first effort was blocked
by one of the four defenders surrounding
him, but got back up quickly to fire in the
The two combined again nine minutes
later with Zapata holding up the ball near
the six-yard box before touching it back to
Hamsik, who curled into the top far cor-
Mertens was sent off moments later after
going into the back of Simone Missiroli. It
was a miserable week for the Belgium winger,
who missed a penalty against Trabzonspor---
although Napoli went on to win 4-0.
Sassuolo almost got back into the match
but Mariano Andujar pulled off a fantastic
fingertip save at full stretch to prevent
Francesco Magnanelli s effort from flying
into the top corner.
Also, Inter Milan defeated Cagliari, 2-1
in the late match. (AP)
Napoli closes in on 2nd-placed Roma
LONDON---Two referees who were crit-
icised for their performances in Premier
League matches over the weekend will not
take charge of games in the next round in
the English top flight.
Martin Atkinson and Kevin Friend have
been appointed as fourth officials for games
Atkinson failed to send off Burnley striker
Ashley Barnes for a strong tackle on
Chelsea s Nemanja Matic during a game at
Stamford Bridge on Saturday. An unhappy
Matic subsequently pushed Barnes to the
ground, and received a straight red card.
The Football Association declined Monday
to take retrospective action against Barnes
because Atkinson had seen the incident at
Friend was the referee for Southampton-
Liverpool on Sunday, when there were a
number of penalty-area flashpoints. (AP)
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