No football match attracts the eyes of the world quite like El Clasico.
But mere hours before putting Real Madrid to the sword last December, FC Barcelona front man Luis Suarez and his teammates also had their eyes glued to a match on the opposite side of the world.
That was because his old teammate Bruno Fornaroli was strutting his stuff in the Melbourne derby.
The Melbourne City striker revealed Suarez sent him a picture of he and his Barcelona teammates watching on as Melbourne Victory secured a 1-0 win thanks to Mark Milligan's dramatic late penalty.
“He sent to me one picture last year when I watched the derby because of injury,” Fornaroli said.
“He said look, we prepared ourselves watching you play, we tried to learn from you so maybe we can win today!”
Fornaroli and Suarez first met as young boys pursuing footballing careers at one of Uruguay’s premier footballing institutions, Club Nacional de Football.
And although a potential reunion of that partnership firmly in the realm of Hyundai A-League fantasy for now, Melbourne City’s star striker says he hopes to bring the Barcelona man and old friend Down Under soon.
“He wants to come, he wants to come for a visit and I always say – this is a big country and beautiful. I said to him, you have to come and I hope one day he comes here,” said Fornaroli.
“Luis has a big quality. His mentality is very strong. I think Luis has had a very good career and continues to do this and everyone can see when Luis plays he wants to win.
“Sometimes people call Luis crazy – he’s crazy inside the pitch but he’s a very good guy. It’s great to see him play and to learn from him too because I think when you’re training every day to the top players like he’s training now, you’ll be a better player.”
After first meeting Suarez on a bus trip on the way to Montevideo, where Nacional are based, the two forwards would go on to spend the best part of half a decade together in the youth ranks.
Despite the pair’s paths splitting when Suarez left for Netherlands club FC Groningen in 2006, Fornaroli still harbours a lot of love for his former teammate.
“We were good friends,” Fornaroli said.
“Uruguay is small, so everyone knows each other and everyone knows if someone scores – especially when you are friends… everyone follows the other players.”