Suarez injured! How will Barcelona line up without their only No.9?

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The Catalans have a wealth of attacking depth, but with no direct replacement for the Uruguayan, they will need to change their tactics against PSV

After such a slow start to the 2018-19 season, Luis Suarez is back on top form in Barcelona colours. Or, at least, he was, until injury intervened against Atletico Madrid on Saturday.

Suarez is now suffering from a minor knee problem that is expected to rule him out for two weeks, and four games, starting with Wednesday's Champions League trip to Eindhoven to face PSV.

It's a minor injury but a major issue for Barcelona because while they have no shortage of attackers, they do not have even one other natural No.9 in their squad.

The likes of Lionel Messi, Philippe Coutinho, Ousmane Dembele, Munir and Malcom have many skills and attributes but not one of that quintet shares the same characteristics as the ex-Liverpool man.

Since Paco Alcacer left for Borussia Dortmund during the summer, Barcelona have lacked a like-for-like replacement for Suarez, meaning that a tactical as well as personnel switch will now be required.

Of course, after an impressive goal-scoring cameo off the bench against Atletico Madrid, Dembele should be in the driving seat to come into the starting line-up. However, Barca are also boosted by the return of Coutinho, who has been inactive for three weeks with a muscle tear.

With those two players coming into the attack, Messi is likely to take a more central position, playing in his old 'false nine' role.

Barcelona Without Suarez PS

With the Argentine roving through the heart of PSV's defence, that would leave Coutinho and Dembele free to stretch the Eredivisie side out wide, where both have previously proven themselves both comfortable and effective.

Another injury, however, to young Brazilian star Arthur, may yet leave Valverde with further doubts over his line-up.

Arthur has showed spectacular progress since his summer arrival from Gremio to establish himself as a key first-teamer, keeping even a seasoned pro like Arturo Vidal out of the side. However, his hamstring tear could give the Chilean a rare chance to shine from the start for the Catalans.

Barcelona Without Suarez PS

But if Valverde opts against Vidal, another summer signing kept on the margins of the first team could be left celebrating.

The possibility of Coutinho dropping back to cover Arthur's absence in midfield would open the door for Malcom, rarely seen since that dramatic transfer from under the noses of Roma.

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There could even be a case to start Munir, who has looked bright in the limited first-team opportunities afforded to him this season by Valverde.

The Barca coach, then, has quite the dilemma on his hands. But thanks to the wealth of talent at his disposal and the fact that the Blaugrana have already sealed qualification to the Champions League knockout stages, the chance to experiment with his fringe players may not be entirely unwelcome.

The question of what happens when Suarez is unavailable has gone unanswered at Camp Nou for far too long. An adequate Plan B was required anyway. Suarez's injury will force Valverde to find one.

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