Luis Suarez finally sinking his teeth into the competition for Barcelona

Like him, love him or loathe him, Luis Suarez is one of the top forwards in the world and one of the primary reasons Barcelona has edged ahead of rivals Real Madrid in La Liga and in Europe. While Lionel Messi earns deserved praise for his ungodly run of form, Suarez has found his comfort zone and elevated the Catalans' play with his unselfishness and world-class finishing.

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After Suarez failed to score in his first seven Spanish league appearances, doubters wondered if the special trio of Messi, Neymar and Suarez on paper would translate to success on the pitch. Nearly five months after his Barcelona debut in El Clasico against Real Madrid, Suarez enters Sunday's game at the Camp Nou with four goals in his last five league matches. Across all competitions, the Uruguayan is biting back at critics with eight goals in his last 10 appearances.

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Easily disregarded as a freak show following his infamous chomp on Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini at the 2014 World Cup, Suarez possesses another unique ability on the pitch. As England's top scorer a season ago and joint winner of the 2013-14 European Golden Shoe alongside Cristiano Ronaldo, Suarez finished with more league goals (31) than Messi (28) in a league that offers more parity.

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Beyond netting goals, Suarez spent four years at Ajax and played in the structure that inspired Barcelona's trademark style of play. Total football is based on passing, moving, and constantly changing positions rather than dribbling, shooting and standing in place. When he left Ajax for Liverpool in 2011, Suarez vacated his captaincy for the Dutch giants. Being captain at Ajax hinted at Suarez's ability as an all-around forward, and that hint would lead to loud screams of satisfaction from the Kop during his time at Liverpool.


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Suarez does not only score goals. He understands how to play the game and find teammates. In his final season with Liverpool, Suarez earned due attention for scoring 31 league goals, but his 12 assists ranked second in the Premier League behind only Reds teammate Steven Gerrard, who finished with 13 assists.

In La Liga, the 28-year-old Suarez has appeared in 18 matches and scored seven goals. While that not may be an eye-popping statistic, he has already served up nine assists. Only Messi (14) and Ronaldo (11) have more assists than Suarez, and the Uruguayan has appeared in nine fewer league matches than the Argentine and six fewer games than the Portuguese.

Suarez's willingness to find teammates in front of goal rather than force shots has Barcelona's front three clicking and its attack buzzing.


Even when Suarez first arrived in Spain and struggled to find the back of the net, he managed to locate teammates with pinpoint passes in dangerous positions. In the last El Clasico, he famously found Neymar in the fourth minute to put Barcelona a goal up on Real Madrid. By the time Suarez scored his first La Liga goal, he had already tallied five assists in the league.

With Barcelona ascending and racking up wins, Suarez is a central figure in the Catalan club's recent success. Arguably, even more vital than Suarez’s role of scoring goals is his role in creating them. Against Real Madrid on Sunday, Suarez may not get the final touch, but he is sure to be involved in any goal Barcelona scores.

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Shahan Ahmed is a soccer columnist for Yahoo Sports. He has previously written about the 2014 World Cup and 2013 Confederations Cup and regularly provides opinions on the English Premier League, UEFA Champions League, German Bundesliga, Italian Serie A and Spanish La Liga. Follow Shahan on Twitter: @ShahanLA and @perfectpass