Valverde sure goals will come as Suarez takes flak

ATHENS • Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde has backed Luis Suarez to come good after the LaLiga giants failed to score in a Champions League group stage game for the first time in five years.

Barcelona were held to a 0-0 draw at Olympiakos on Tuesday and must to wait to confirm a place in the last 16.

Suarez attempted seven shots - the most he has had without scoring for the Catalan giants - but could not open his account in Europe's elite club competition this season.

But Valverde hailed the effort from the 30-year-old.

"I like this version of Suarez a lot and sometimes, the goal depends on one more centimetre to the left or to the right," he said.

"I do not worry about the lack of goals because we created chances and sooner or later, the goals will come."

Suarez, who has three goals in 13 games in all competitions, missed Barca's best chance of the first-half. The Uruguayan striker sent a low shot into the side-netting with the outside of his right boot from a tight angle.

The visitors forged their best chance just after the hour, but Lionel Messi uncharacteristically scuffed a first-time effort wide after a neat one-two with Suarez.

Barca exerted more pressure after the break, but had little to show for their efforts apart from a couple of blocked and wayward shots by a below-par Suarez, who also lobbed an effort onto the top of the bar with 10 minutes left.

Barcelona remain top of Group D with 10 points, having extended their unbeaten run in all competitions to 15 matches with 13 wins and two draws, ahead of Juventus on seven points after their 1-1 draw at Sporting, who have four.

Olympiakos finally earned their first Champions League point this season as Barca were held to a goalless draw for the first time since April.

"Olympiakos is a very strong team and they have achieved a great result and we congratulate them," Valverde added on his return to his former club. "I would love to see them qualify but there is a long way to go yet."

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 02, 2017, with the headline 'Valverde sure goals will come as Suarez takes flak'. Print Edition | Subscribe