Luis Suarez’s majestic performance in Uruguay’s 2-1 victory over England in Sao Paolo was yet another indication of just how far away Roy Hodgson’s men are from becoming serious contenders at major international tournaments.
The Liverpool ace scored both of his country’s goals to all but end England’s chances of a first World Cup since 1966 at the first hurdle, and boost the South American side’s chances of progressing from the group after Saturdays 3-1 defeat to Costa Rica. In a game where both sides cancelled out the other, it was Suarez that proved the difference, blasting past Joe Hart with just minutes left on the clock and announcing himself to the tournament in the most emphatic way possible.
How England must wish they boasted a player of such quality. He was at his best last night, charged with adrenaline and igniting with every touch of the ball. This is a player tailor made for the grandest of occasions, regardless of the badge on his chest.
Wayne Rooney was once held in similar company. The Manchester United striker struck England level, but will know his chances of grabbing the spotlight at such a stage will already have come and gone. Not that he was not simply outstanding against the Uruguayans. He deserved his goal, constantly threatening and probing away, looking for an opportunity to strike. Rooney was the one player that kept going, brimming with tenacity, until the final whistle blew and curtain came crashing down.
Suarez’s Liverpool strike partner Daniel Sturridge was similarly potent and unlucky to end the game without his name on the scoresheet. Despite his brilliance, there remains no doubt over which player is superior. England used to attract such praise from the way they would churn out such physical, bulldozing strikers. Yet now, in the modern game and with the need of enterprising, attacking football, it is strikers in the mould of the irresistible Suarez that prove the greater lure.
It will be no great surprise if Real Madrid come calling for a player that would fit in seamlessly at the Santiago Bernabeu. He has the character, hunger and ability to succeed over on Spanish shores and would forge an unstoppable attacking trio consisting of himself, Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo.
England need a player just like him. Yet until they do, more disappointments like the class of 2014 may have to be endured if they are ever to hit the heights of old and lift the World Cup trophy aloft once again.
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