Luis Suarez prepares for Barca baptism of fire in El Clasico

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Compelling comeback: Luis Suarez is making his official return after his four-month ban in the El Clasico.

After 122 days Luis Suarez will be free to take part in a competitive match again and not just any game, but the biggest one in world football when Barcelona face Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday.

Much has changed since Suarez sunk his teeth into the shoulder of Italy's Giorgio Chiellini at the World Cup back in June.

He was lambasted and ridiculed in equal measure by commentators the world over, handed a four-month ban from by FIFA as the bite was his third offence and changed clubs.

Suarez admitted recently he feared his latest indiscretion would result in dream move from Liverpool to Barca falling through, but the Catalans instead invested their faith and £75 million (Dhs442m) in the Uruguayan's undoubted ability.

"I was scared that they would call it off, as a repercussion of the incident. I was aware that could have happened," he said.

"By then the contact had begun with Barca and soon (his agent) Pere Guardiola would ring me and tell me it was done.

"I began to cry, for the situation I was going through and the faith Barca had shown in me. I felt really happy for the commitment the club were demonstrating in me."

The time for the repayment of that faith has now come.

Suarez's 31 Premier League goals took Liverpool to the verge of a first title in 24 years last season and saw him crowned both the players' and writers' player of the year.

Yet, he will have to get used to being a smaller fish in a bigger pond at Barca.

Suarez joins an already star-studded and in-form forward line in four-time World Player of the Year Lionel Messi and Brazilian captain Neymar in a lineup beyond the budgets of even the majority of fantasy football managers.

All three suffered their share of disappointment at the World Cup. Messi a beaten finalist with Argentina, Neymar having his dreams of victory on home soil cruelly torn away by broken vertebrae in his back.

However, they have put that behind them quickly to start the season in stunning form. Messi has been back to his best with nine goals and 11 assists in 11 appearances, whilst Neymar has struck 10 times in as many games.

"We are desperately awaiting the return of Luis because he will give us a lot of strength as a team," Messi said after Barca's 3-1 win over Ajax on Tuesday.

"He is a great striker who will score a lot of goals. I am happy for him because he has spent a lot of time without playing."

What remains unclear is whether Suarez's debut will come as a starter or a substitute at the Bernabeu.

"He is very intense in the training sessions, he places a lot of importance in the day-to-day work and we hope that he will offer a lot," said Barca boss Luis Enrique in dismissing concerns over his fitness.

"From what I have seen of him in these weeks it is clear that he is getting close to his best."

His match sharpness and confidence was also boosted by scoring twice in friendlies for Uruguay against Saudi Arabia and Oman earlier this month.

Now he must take Messi and Neymar's lead by putting his World Cup nightmare behind him to remind the world why is not just one of the most controversial, but best players on the planet.

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UCL round-up: Real make Liverpool suffer, Wenger gets dramatic birthday gift

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First goal at Anfield: Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo previously hadn't scored at Liverpool's ground.

Real Madrid handed Liverpool a 3-0 UEFA Champions League reality check, while Arsenal struck twice at the death in a 2-1 win at Anderlecht to mark manager Arsene Wenger's 65th birthday in style.

At Anfield, Cristiano Ronaldo hit his 70th UEFA Champions League goal – one short of the all-time record 71 held by Raul, and his 20th of the season already – with Karim Benzema grabbing a brace. 

Real maintained their 100 percent record in Group B and Ronaldo was delighted to add to his Champions League haul, saying: "It was special, my first goal at Anfield and I am very happy. 

"We knew that Anfield is a difficult place but we were fantastic in the first 45 minutes and we deserved to win."

"I'm not worried about the Champions League goalscoring record. I know I will beat it. The best thing is that the team has nine points."

Ronaldo had never scored at Anfield in his five appearances for Manchester United, but he needed only 23 minutes to end that barren run.

Seizing possession in a central area 25 yards from goal, Ronaldo moved the ball onto James Rodriguez before sprinting into the penalty area to meet the Colombian's chipped pass, which dropped perfectly over three Liverpool defenders, with a sublime finish as he held off Martin Skrtel to flick his shot past Simon Mignolet.

To make matters worse for Liverpool, Mario Balotelli was hauled off at half-time after swapping shirts with Pepe in the tunnel in a move that will hardly quell the feeling the striker is developing into a major flop.

"It's something that doesn't happen here, it shouldn't happen here," said Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers. "For me, if you want to do that it's something you do at the end of the game. I will deal with that tomorrow [Thursday]."

Ludogorets Razgrad of Bulgaria moved into second place behind Real after a last-gasp 1-0 win over Basel.

Like Real, Borussia Dortmund also recorded their third win from three after trouncing Galatasary 4-0 while, in Brussels, late goals by Kieran Gibbs and Lukas Podolski handed Arsenal a dramatic 2-1 win away to Anderlecht.

An Andy Najar header in the 71st minute looked set to give the Belgian champions a rare European victory until Gibbs volleyed in a Calum Chambers cross with a minute left.
     
Substitute Podolski then struck a minute into injury time to seal all three points, to the great relief of Wenger.

"They had big chances that they didn't take, and our experience made the difference. Unexpectedly, but as long as we didn't concede the second goal we had a chance at least to take a pont," said Wenger.

"Maybe we didn't deserve to win it because of the quality of match Anderlecht played tonight."

Last year's runners-up Atletico Madrid moved a step closer to qualifying for the last 16 with a comfortable 5-0 win over Malmo at the Vicente Calderon to go top of Group A.

It took the Spanish champions until after half-time to make the breakthrough, but once Koke had finished off a fine team move to open the scoring there was little doubt Diego Simeone's men were headed for victory.

Two goals in two minutes from Mario Mandzukic – his 19th in 23 Champions League appearances – and Antoine Griezmann just after the hour mark made the game safe before late goals from Diego Godin and Alessio Cerci rounded off the scoring.

Previous leaders Juventus slumped to a 1-0 loss at Olympiakos with Swiss midfielder Pajtim Kasami scoring a first half winner.

In Group C, 10-man Bayer Leverkusen went top with a 2-0 win over Andre Villas-Boas' Zenit St Petersburg to claim a second straight victory, defenders Giulio Donati and Kyriakos Papadopoulos scoring the Germans' goals.

Leverkusen were forced to play the final ten minutes a man down after Brazilian left-back Wendell was sent off for a second yellow-card. 

Monaco's goalless draw at home to Benfica means Leverkusen took over at the top, despite having lost their opening match at Monaco before beating Benfica at the BayArena.

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Spurs and ex-USA ‘keeper Friedel answers questions from UAE football fans

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Legend: Brad Friedel played in four Premier League sides.

Sport360 gave UAE readers and Elite Football Academy goalkeepers the chance to ask Tottenham Hotspur shot-stopper Brad Friedel questions about the position he mastered.

The former USA international is one of the best in the business to have played in the English Premier League.

Friedel's career has spanned 17 years and in that time he has featured for some of the most prestigious clubs in Europe such as Liverpool and Galatasaray. 

Here Friedel answers a wide range of questions from his superstitions to some of the most feared opponents he has come up against.

Who had the most powerful shot out of all the strikers you faced? Kristian K (Under-14s) 

If I had to name one, it would be [former Liverpool and Portsmouth winger] Patrik Berger – his shot was ridiculously hard.

 Is goalkeeping the most difficult position to learn and what is the most important character trait for a 'keeper? Jack D (Under-12s) 

I don’t think it’s the most difficult position to learn, if you want to be a goalkeeper I think it’s similar to if you want to be a striker, midfielder or defender. The most important character trait is that you want to actually be hit with a ball. I don’t know if you call it bravery or determination.

As a goalkeeper are you a fan of goal-line technology? Tom B (Under-12s)

100% in favour of goal line technology.

Did you have any pre/during or post match rituals or superstitions? Charlie O (Under-16)

I use to be very superstitious but as the years go on I don’t think I have a superstition anymore. I was speaking to [ex-Arsenal defender turned pundit] Martin Keown recently and his superstition was that he wasn’t allowed to have any superstitions. 

Who is the most talented team-mate you have played alongside? Andrew Nolan

Gheorghe Hagi [they played together at Galatasaray].

What is your best/favourite game in a Spurs shirt? Raad Jaboori Al-Shaikh 

The atmosphere after we beat Arsenal in my first season at White Hart Lane. When you win a derby it is massively important. That was a good day for us.

Any plans after retirement? Basil Hindash

I have completed my licence so I may go into coaching or media work. I have also had some offers to go on boards of clubs. I will still be involved in football.

What's your best advice for young goalkeepers who are 18-19 years old? Roy Ahmar

My best advice is to train and train hard and play as much as you can, but do it with a smile on your face. If you’re not enjoying it, you should ask yourself whether you are doing the right thing.

Did you get nervous when you played against big clubs? Sahil Chopra

When I was younger, I got nervous but I was never anxious. You learn how to control your nerves from a young age. Once you warm-up, your nerves evaporate and you become excited for the game. The more experience you get, the less nervous you get. Being relaxed is one of my character traits.

Brad Friedel was speaking as he took part in the City Index Celebrity Traders Challenge

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