Luis Suarez: the most dangerous footballer in the world
06/19/2014 6:20 PM
06/19/2014 6:20 PM
(SportsNetwork.com) - When the World Cup draw took place back in December, experts and columnists alike made their predictions as to which teams will reach the semifinals and final in Rio de Janeiro on July 13.
Popular selections included Brazil, Argentina, Germany and perhaps France or Portugal, but there is one team who could make a surprise appearance, Uruguay.
And if Uruguay is to make a deep run in the competition, the team will rely on one man to carry them.
Luis Suarez, the most dangerous man in the world with a football at his feet.
Uruguay was handed a favorable group schedule when the team played Costa Rica in its first Group D match, but Suarez dominated the pre-match headlines as he faced a race to be fit while recovering from meniscus surgery just a few weeks ago.
Suarez was an unused substitute against Costa Rica, and it was a significant miss as Uruguay was largely toothless in attack aside from an Edinson Cavani penalty kick, and lost, 3-1, to the plucky Ticos.
The Liverpool man was declared fit to start by head coach Oscar Tabarez, and took his place next to Cavani in the starting 11 against England and proved his worth in a big way.
Facing an England side which contained six of his Liverpool teammates, you know Suarez had a little extra motivation to stick it to the nation where he plays his club football.
With both sides feeling each other out through most of the first half, Suarez got his first scoring opportunity in the 39th minute and took full advantage when he rolled off the shoulder of England defender Phil Jagielka and nodded home a well-placed cross from Cavani, sending the Uruguay faithful at the Arena Corinthians into euphoria.
England equalized in the 75th minute, however, when Wayne Rooney got on the end of a cross from Glen Johnson and directed it home for his first World Cup goal in 10 games.
Energized by the goal, England went forward looking for a potential winner, but as with most great strikers, all it takes for Suarez to influence the match is one chance and he did just that in the 84th minute when a goal kick from Fernando Muslera was flicked on by Liverpool teammate Steven Gerrard to keep Suarez onside.
Suarez took a quick touch and fired a rocket past Joe Hart, something he never managed to do in league play last season, to put his side ahead, 2-1.
Uruguay held out to the final whistle for an important three points to get right back into contention in Group D, while England appears to be heading for a quick exit, having lost its first two group-stage matches for the first time since 1950.
With so many of his Merseyside teammates on the England roster, it is probably safe to say that Gerrard and company knew exactly what to expect from Suarez and how to defend him.
But the Three Lions' defense struggled much of the game and they could do nothing to stop a player as talented and determined as Suarez, who always manages to find himself in the right spots on the pitch and had an unbelievable season for the Reds, scoring 31 goals in the Premier League.
Suarez carries a quiet arrogance with him that proved invaluable on Thursday, and if he can pass that confidence to the rest of his team, they could make a deep run past the group stage and have a chance to replicate their 2010 success, which saw Uruguay reach the semifinals.
One thing is for certain, however, Luis Suarez is the most dangerous man in the world with a ball at his feet, and he proved it in grand style on Thursday.