Roy Hodgson stokes Suarez fires ahead of England v Uruguay
England coach Roy Hodgson, speaking ahead of his side’s make or break World Cup encounter with Uruguay, was full of praise for leading La Celeste scorer, describing him as a “wonderful player”.
However, in somewhat of a back-handed compliment, the former Inter Milan manager acknowledged that Luis Suarez, 6/5 to score anytime against England, has the “potential” to become one of the greats, but that he isn’t quite there yet.
Refusing to allow gathered media to get carried away, Hodgson subtly reminded Suarez of his standing in the game, with the striker still having serious work to do before he can be mentioned in the same breath as “[Diego] Maradona”.
Reeling off an illustrious list including “Pele, [Franz] Beckenbauer and [Johan] Cruyff and [Andrea] Pirlo”, the Three Lions boss noted that “to be recognised as one of the all-time greats you have got to do it at the World Cup”.
Hodgson’s observation may have been a genuine reflection on how high the bar is set for top players today to be considered among the upper echelon. However, it also piles pressure onto unpredictable striker Suarez, who is not known for keeping his cool in crunch matches.
The emotional Liverpool talisman has a poor disciplinary record, with notable incidents including infamous bites on Otman Bakkal whilst at Ajax, and Branislav Ivanovic when facing Chelsea. He also has previous bad boy form whilst representing La Celeste, with an audacious handball on his own goal-line memorably preventing Ghana from reaching the 2010 World Cup semi finals.
Fighting to be fit against the Three Lions, who are 5/4 to beat Uruguay, Suarez already faces great expectations, and is his nation’s main hope for qualification.
Forced to sit on the sidelines as La Celeste were shocked by surprise package Costa Rica, sinking to a 3-1 defeat inspired by Arsenal attacker Joel Campbell, the striker will now need to be at his unplayable best.
At 10/3 to qualify, Uruguay have it all to do, and are 12/5 to beat an England side that also succumbed to a defeat against Italy. With the Three Lions sitting at third in Group D, only above Suarez’s side on goal difference, the 27-year-old will need to net, and is 9/2 to fire first for La Celeste in the clash.
Superstar Suarez has been on target 39 times in 77 caps for the South American side, and bagged 82 goals in 133 league appearances for Liverpool, making the forward 40/1 to be World Cup top scorer. However, if he is to claim individual honours, first he will have to prevent his country from crashing out at the group stage.
Now odd-on at 10/11 to qualify, England and Hodgson will be hoping the occasion proves too much for the PFA Player of the Year, with Premier League strike partner Daniel Sturridge 11/2 to spoil Suarez’s party and score first for the Three Lions.