Risks and rewards for Barcelona in Spanish league

Published on NewsOK Modified: August 19, 2014 at 1:31 pm •  Published: August 19, 2014
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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Aligning Luis Suarez with Lionel Messi and Neymar to spear Barcelona's attack looks like a winning formula, if the three can set aside their problems and possible distractions.

The club has turned to former midfielder Luis Enrique, known for his forthright approach, to lead the rebuilding project that will likely have its unique set of challenges.

"Luis Enrique is our most important signing," Barcelona president Josep Bartomeu said. "We expect a lot from him."

Here are five things you should about Barcelona before it opens the Spanish league against Elche on Sunday.

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GOALS OR GORE?

There is no way around it: Barcelona is putting its reputation as a "values first" club at stake by signing Luis Suarez following his biting incident at the World Cup, earning the Uruguay forward a four-month suspension.

Suarez's chomp into the shoulder of Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini led to his third ban for biting an opponent after similar incidents while at former clubs Liverpool and Ajax. He was also suspended in 2011 for making racist insults during a match.

But Suarez's knack for scoring and his Premier League-leading 31 goals last season were enough to convince Barcelona that he was needed to re-conquer the league title and was worth an 81 million euro ($108 million) investment.

His ban by FIFA was softened to let him practice and play friendlies. He won't play a competitive match until Oct. 25.

Suarez has pledged not to bite again.

"I say to all the fans, don't worry, because I won't do that anymore," Suarez said at his presentation.

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MESSI'S MESSES

Oddly enough, Suarez's ban may not be the biggest problem Barcelona faces this season.

Two major questions are swirling around the team's all-time leading scorer and the centerpiece of its decade of success.

First, how will Lionel Messi react to Argentina's loss in the World Cup final? Will he be hungrier than ever to win or continue his off-an-on performances from last season?

And second, will Messi be seen in court facing charges for tax fraud?

In July, a Spanish judge rejected a prosecutor's request to drop the tax fraud case against Messi also involving his father. That means Messi could be obliged to appear in court if the judge rules the case must go ahead with an indictment.

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