Barcelona have been dealt a major blow as the club confirmed that Luis Suárez would be undergoing surgery on Sunday for a torn meniscus in his right knee. The injury to their star striker comes on the heels of tough week on the field, which saw the Blaugrana lose 3-2 to Atlético Madrid in the Supercopa de España and draw against Espanyol in La Liga.
The league's co-leaders have been less than impressive for stretches of the 2019-20 campaign, having already lost more matches (3) than in either of the prior two seasons.
The impact of losing the squad's second-highest scorer could severely damage the trophy hopes of an aging core. Suárez, Leo Messi, Arturo Vidal, and defender Gerard Piqué are all 32, while Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitic are 31. The group is by no means past their primes, but Champions League and La Liga are grinding competitions that can wear down the fittest of players. One missing piece threatens to derail the team's biggest ambitions.
Suárez has appeared in all but two of Barcelona's league matches, knocking in 11 goals and providing 7 assists, plus 3 more of each in European competition. The club will rely on summer transfer Antoine Griezmann to pick up the goal-scoring slack, despite the inconsistent contribution from the Frenchman thus far. 22-year-old Ousmane Dembélé and 16-year-old Ansu Fati could also be forced into action more regularly, having only participated in 5 and 10 matches this season, respectively.
Barcelona's upcoming schedule includes a January 19th rematch against the Granada squad that dispatched them 2-0 in September, followed by a Valencia team that has made quite an impression in Champions League. The Catalan side has just over a month to prepare for their own knockout round opponent in Europe, having drawn Napoli in the Round of 16.