Two former Liverpool teammates will be reunited on opposite sides on Tuesday when Barcelona begin their preparations for the new season by taking on the LA Galaxy at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. It will be the first time that Steven Gerrard and Luis Suárez have come face to face since the latter left Anfield for the Camp Nou last summer following Liverpool’s agonizing failure to win the Premier League title.
Since then the two men have headed on vastly different paths. For Suárez, his dream move to Barcelona could hardly have gone any better. Despite being suspended for the first two months of the campaign, the Uruguayan finished it with 25 goals and formed a sensational forward trio with Lionel Messi and Neymar that fired the club to a La Liga, Champions League and Copa del Rey treble.
“While a great club like Barca does dream, you never imagine winning it all,” Suárez said in the build up to Tuesday’s encounter, reports Barcelona’s official website.
The task for Barcelona in attempting to repeat their achievements of last season is an even greater one. However, Suárez suggested that, after his biting ban last year, the fact that he is now able to get up to speed with his teammates from the start, means the squad could be even stronger.
“You need to get some rhythm for the first few games, which is why we have a preseason, to work hard from the start,” he said. “This year, starting out at the same pace as my teammates, will be different. I want the group to have another great year.”
Gerrard, meanwhile, is still very much in the process of integrating with his new teammates. The 35-year-old ended his long association with Liverpool this summer following a season of struggles for both him and the team in Suárez’s absence. And Gerrard remains full of praise for the man who so nearly helped Liverpool end their long title drought.
“I don’t think anyone ever looks forward to playing against Luis Suárez, he is a fantastic talent and a very dangerous player,” Gerrard told Barcelona’s website. “I am looking forward to it, saying hello before and after the game, and also looking forward to testing myself in the game. He is a fantastic teammate, probably the best player I have played with. He’s good guy, a family man away from the pitch, we keep in touch and keep supporting each other throughout our careers, so yes, he is a good friend of mine.”
Gerrard should come into the reunion in high spirits, after he began his LA Galaxy career with a flourish last Friday. The midfielder scored a debut goal and had a sizable impact as his new team came from two goals behind to beat the San Jose Earthquakes, 5-2. The result means the defending MLS Cup champions sit a point off the top of the Western Conference.
Barcelona do not begin the defense of their Primera Division title until Aug. 23, although they will have both the European and Spanish Supercups before then. But, with time still in hand, two of their star forward trio wont’ feature on Tuesday in the International Champions Cup match, with Lionel Messi and Neymar being given extra time off to recuperate from their exertions in the Copa America. New signings Arda Turan and Aleix Vidal are unable to play because of the club’s transfer ban, which runs until January.
Kickoff time: 11 p.m. EDT
Where: Rose Bowl, Pasadena, Calif.
TV channel: Fox Sports 1