Two defeats in as many games has not been the dream start Luis Suarez sought as a Barcelona player, but one of his old hunting grounds offers the chance to get up and running as the Catalans travel to Ajax on Wednesday.
The Uruguayan scored 111 goals during a four-year spell with the Dutch champions before moving to Liverpool in 2011, but has yet to find the net since sealing his club record Â£75 million ($120 million, 96 million euro) move to Barcelona in July.
Barca’s star-studded front three of Suarez, Neymar and Lionel Messi were denied by a fine goalkeeping display from Sergio Alvarez and the woodwork four times as Celta Vigo recorded their first away win at Barcelona since 1941 on Saturday, just a week after Barca were beaten for the first time in the league this season at Real Madrid.
“The match against Ajax is the most important at the moment,” said Suarez, who played the full 90 minutes against Celta for the first time since his four-month ban for biting at the World Cup.
“It is clear that it is a club that gave me everything.
“I learned a lot and I will always be thankful for that. To return and play in the Champions League with Barcelona will be great.”
A win for Barca at the Amsterdam Arena allied to victory for Paris Saint-Germain at home to APOEL Nicosia will see both the top seeds in Group F into the last 16 with two games to spare.
However, Luis Enrique’s men will not be taking Ajax lightly having suffered their first defeat of last season in the Dutch capital 2-1 despite playing against 10 men for the majority of the second-half.
“They started very strongly and over ran us in the early part of the game,” midfielder Sergio Busquets said on Monday.
“When they went down to 10 men and we scored it changed. We hope that doesn’t happen again.”
Busquets has been one of a number of Barca players below par in the last two games, but he refuted suggestions he was still feeling the after effects of a hip injury picked up towards the end of last season and accepted the scrutiny that will come their way after back-to-back defeats.
“It is normal that there is a debate and everything is looked at with a magnifying glass. If you lose you have to improve because you are not doing everything well, but we always analyse ourselves, as much when we win as when we lose.
“We need to keep working and improving, we can’t do anything else.”
Ajax need to win to retain any realistic hope of reaching the last 16 and midfielder Lasse Schone believes lightning can strike twice for Frank de Boer’s men.
“Everyone then had written us off last year, but we won,” Schone, who scored twice in Saturday’s 4-0 win over FC Dordrecht, told the club’s website.
“The more people say we can’t do it the better. Barcelona are better than last year, but again there is always a chance.”