Suarez laments ‘bittersweet’ debut defeat

Barcelona striker Luis Suarez described his return to action from a four-month ban for biting as bittersweet after the Catalans suffered their first league defeat of the season 3-1 away to Real Madrid on Saturday.

Suarez laments 'bittersweet' debut defeat
Photo: AFP

"I am very happy to return to playing, it is a great relief to have this time behind me," said Suarez, who was substituted after 68 minutes.

"The feeling is bittersweet because of the result, but this team has lifted itself many times before."

It took the Uruguayan just three minutes to make an impact as he set up Neymar for the opening goal.

But after Cristiano Ronaldo had levelled from the penalty spot 10 minutes before the break, Barca were blown away in the second-half by goals from Pepe and Karim Benzema.

"Obviously what everyone wants on a debut is a victory, even more so in a game of this magnitude. I think that we did everything we could to get a good result, but it wasn't to be," added Suarez.

"We need to forget this game and think about our next opponents.

"After they equalised to make it 1-1 we controlled the game, we had chances to score and it's always difficult if you don't take your chances. In the second-half they surprised us with their speed on the counter and killed the game.

"We have to move on and think about our next opponent, we are still a point ahead of Real Madrid."

Barca boss Luis Enrique claimed he had no regrets about throwing Suarez back into the thick of the action.

"I don't regret it at all," said Enrique.

"He did more than I expected. He played more and with rhythm. We brought him off because it is very difficult to play the 90 minutes after such a long time."

However, Enrique admitted Madrid had been deserving winners on the day.

"We started well, but as soon as we scored they started to create chances.

"There was a period where we could have made it 2-0, but in the second-half they punished us at the key moments and deserved to win the game."

Barca's only two defeats this season have come in their two real tests away at Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League.

And Enrique recognised they needed to cut out the sloppy errors that had cost them against top opposition.

"This shows clearly that there are opponents just as good if not better than us, as was the case today. We need to rectify that because the errors allowed them to win clearly."

A ninth consecutive victory in all competitions for Madrid moves them back to within a point of Barcelona at the top of the.

Real boss Carlo Ancelotti lauded his side's calm reaction to falling behind so early on.

"We didn't lose our head after losing the early goal," said the Italian.

"I liked many things about the team, above all the high tempo we played with. The team recovered well with just two days rest after Wednesday and played very well."

Defender Sergio Ramos, meanwhile, was more effusive in his praise of just Real's second home league win over Barca in seven seasons.

"The team was incredible in all aspects and positions, despite the goal we conceded," said the Spanish international.

"We were very clear in our ideas, and we dominated not only in possession but on the counter-attack. It was a complete performance."

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Why has the expansion of Barcelona airport prompted mass protests?

Around 10,000 people demonstrated against the expansion of the El Prat airport in Barcelona on Sunday.

Why has the expansion of Barcelona airport prompted mass protests?
People march during a demonstration against the expansion of the Barcelona-El Prat airport. Photo: Pau BARRENA / AFP

Several ecological and agricultural organisations, have demanded that the expansion be stopped due to the fact nearby wetlands and farms would have to be destroyed.

The demonstration took place on Calle Tarragona in the Catalan capital between Plaça d’Espanya and Plaça dels Països Catalans.

The protests still took place, even though last week, Spain suspended the €1.7 billion airport expansion project, citing differences with the Catalan government, after president Pere Aragonès said he wanted to avoid destroying La Ricarda lagoon, a natural reserve next to the airport. 

Environmentalists decided not to call off the march, in case plans for the airport expansion still went ahead.

READ ALSO: Six things you need to know about Barcelona airport’s €1.7 billion planned expansion

Political representatives from ERC, En Comú Podem and the CUP also attended, as well as the leader of Más País, Íñigo Errejón; the Deputy Mayor for Ecology of the Barcelona City Council, Janet Sanz, and the Mayor of El Prat de Llobregat, Lluís Mijoler.

People from neighbourhoods across the city marched towards Calle Tarragona and could be seen holding placards that read Nature yes, airport no and shouting slogans such as “More courgettes and fewer planes” and “Fighting for the climate, health, and life”. 

One of the largest groups of people were those from El Prat de Llobregat, the municipality which is home to the airport, who were led by tractors. 

People march during a demonstration against the expansion of Barcelona-El Prat airport. Photo by Pau BARRENA / AFP

In addition to protesting against the expansion of the El Prat airport, people were also demonstrating against the Winter Olympic Games in the Pyrenees and extensions to airports in Mallorca and Madrid. 

A representative of Zeroport, Sara Mingorría said “We are here to defend not only La Ricarda, but the entire Delta”. 

The philosopher Marina Garcés also argued that the expansion of the airport would mean “more borders, more mass tourism, more control and more precarious jobs.” 

The leader of the commons in the Catalan parliament, Jéssica Albiach, who also attended the protest, asked the PSOE for “coherence”: “You cannot be passing a law against climate change and, at the same time, defend the interests of Aena [the airport operations company]”, she said. 

She also urged the leader of the Generalitat, Pere Aragonès, to “definitely say no. 

If the airport expansion in Barcelona goes ahead, environmentalists say that CO2 emissions would rise by a minimum of 33 percent. These levels would surpass the limits set by the Catalan government’s climate targets.