There was always going to be one hero in Uruguay-England game and it wasn’t going to be Wayne Rooney. That Rooney had gotten his goose egg out of the way with the equalizer won’t be remembered unless there’s an English miracle in the next game. The hero was always going to be Luis Suarez.
As soon as Suarez and Uruguay were drawn alongside England, you knew Suarez would be chomping at the bit to stick one to the British media by breaking English hearts. The only question was whether he’d be fit enough to take part. But as I predicted, Suarez showed up in a big way for this one.
His first goal was too easy. England should not have allowed Edinson Cavani the space to curl in the ball for Suarez, and like last time out, a mistake from a center-back gave Suarez the tiny bit of space he needed. From there, he was never going to miss the free header. His second goal though was both a beauty and terribly defended. Goals that come straight from the goalie should never happen, as Muslera’s punt was simply headed on by Cavani to release Suarez. Someone should have been marking Suarez, for he was the only player who was going to beat England. But once the ball reached Suarez, his class won out, as his first touch and subsequent screamer were near perfect.
This was another instance of England not properly paying attention to the opposing star in critical moments. In their European Championship exit two years ago, it was a lack of attention to Andrea Pirlo that cost them. This time around, it was Luis Suarez. They had to know he was the threat, and needed to properly mark him at the crucial moment. Suarez was limited most of the match by the English defense, but those two lapses gave him just enough space to leave his mark on the game.
To England’s credit, they looked the better side for much of the game. And this World Cup, they’ve looked a talented squad. But ultimately, it’s individuals stepping up to carry a team that count and England lacked that today. While Rooney got his goal eventually, England’s best player, and yes, I mean that, missed two gilt-edged chances that could have swung the game. I truly believe England could make a serious run for major trophies in the next few years, but they will need individuals to rise above their talent level for that to happen.
Love him or hate him, The World Cup will be better for having Luis Suarez fit and firing. His performance against Italy will be vital if the Uruguayans hope to earn a place in the knockout stage. If only 40,000,001 were enough to have brought him to Arsenal last summer.
On another note, I found the usually loveable Ian Darke and Steve McManaman pairing verging on unbearable at times today. I love these commentators. But today, they seemed to let their bias towards England affect the commentary in a negative way. ESPN has done a good job of assembling on-air talent from all the major soccer nations, but having two Englishmen in the booth for such an important match was too much. They kept beating the audience over the head with their criticism of Uruguay’s stalling tactics. Lots of teams do that, but Darke kept harping on it. It even got to the point when he called out Alvaro Pereira for faking an injury when he was nearly unconscious. While Darke apologized for that, he needed to look at a replay before saying what he did. This duo is great. But if I wanted an English bias this strong, I would have found a BBC feed. I’d take this duo any day of the week, but they were too much today.