La Liga: Best friends and strike partners Messi and Suarez meet again

WION Web Team
New Delhi, Delhi, IndiaUpdated: May 05, 2021, 05:39 PM IST

Lionel Messi (L) celebrates scoring his team's sixth goal with Luis Suarez during the Spanish league football match between FC Barcelona and SD Huesca. Photograph:(AFP)

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The Uruguayan and the Argentine are set to come face to face this weekend for the first time since Suarez left the Camp Nou for Atleti last summer. They combined for an incredible 478 goals in the six years that they played alongside each other for Barcelona.

There is no footballer in the world who has assisted Lionel Messi more often than Luis Suárez. The Uruguayan provided 47 assists for the Argentine in the six years that they spent together at FC Barcelona, where they displayed such great chemistry from practically the first time they stepped onto the pitch as teammates. Messi, meanwhile, set up 39 Suárez goals over those years and the pair combined for a total of 478 goals during their time together at the Camp Nou. They lifted 13 trophies together, including four LaLiga Santander titles and one Champions League.

Given all of that glorious past, it’ll be impossible not to think back to those successes when they go up against each other, this time as opponents, in FC Barcelona vs Atletico de Madrid this weekend. What’s more, the two sides are neck and neck at the top of LaLiga Santander with just four games to go this season, so the encounter at the Camp Nou will undoubtedly be one of the games of the season and huge ramifications in the title race.

Players of historic quality

These two players both feature on the podium of the top goalscorers in the history of FC Barcelona. Messi leads the way with over 700 goals, 280 of which he scored during the Suárez era, while Suárez is third on 198. Only fellow legend László Kubala splits them, which shows just how tremendously productive the South American duo have been at the Camp Nou, producing numbers that hadn’t been seen in almost 70 years and outperforming other illustrious names like César Rodríguez.

Messi and Suárez, a relationship beyond football

The pair’s relationship goes beyond the field of play. The two strikers were neighbours in the Barcelona neighbourhood of Castelldefels and their children went to the same school. It was normal to see their families enjoying leisure time together, even enjoying seafront walks when Barça weren’t playing. It was Suárez who led Messi to drink mate so frequently, with the No.10 now rarely separated from his flask. Now, Antoine Griezmann is the one sharing mate with Messi, after he made the move from Atlético Madrid to FC Barcelona in 2019, one year before Suárez went the opposite way.

It was on September 24th 2020 that Suárez’s illustrious FC Barcelona career came to an end, with the Catalan club accepting an offer for a transfer to Atlético de Madrid. There, in the Spanish capital, No.9 is continuing to show that scoring goals is in his blood. He’ll take on FC Barcelona this weekend just a few goals behind Messi in the LaLiga Santander goal-scoring charts; he hasn’t skipped a beat since his summertime move and continues to be one of world football’s most lethal strikers. What’s clear is that these players possess so much talent that they can still perform as superstars as they get older.

Messi’s search for a new partner at FC Barcelona

Messi has remained as prolific as always this season but hasn’t found an attacking ally quite like Suárez since the Uruguayan left and he may never develop a partnership like theirs. Looking to the past, not even Dani Alves (with 42 assists) or Andrés Iniesta (37) set up the Argentine more than Suárez did (47).

Even as Messi plays alongside other forwards this weekend, he’ll be able to have a pitchside chat with the best strike partner he ever had and a player with whom he developed an unbreakable friendship. The pair will have to put those ties on ice, at least for 90 minutes, as they go up against each other as opponents for the first time since reality forced their separation.

 Watch FC Barcelona vs Atletico de Madrid this Saturday live at 7.45 pm on Facebook Watch