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Suarez will relish English return

first_imgLuis Suarez threatened to be the decisive influence on Liverpool’s season, until they found a way to play without him.He could yet effect long-term change at Manchester City, through engineering a Barcelona win when the Champions League resumes at the Etihad tonight.The controversial frontman may be gone from the Premier League, but he cannot be forgotten.Unpopularity has never really bothered Suarez, even when he became a global pariah at the World Cup. It undoubtedly helps that he is accustomed to thriving in chaotic circumstances.Barcelona are flirting with the internecine warfare that tends to be their default position when supremacy cannot be taken for granted.“ The fact his team-mates have deferred to his recent knowledge of the Premier League – he is, after all our current Footballer of the Year – adds to the sense of increasing integration. Suarez has scored only four goals in 15 La Liga games – seven in all competitions – though his acolytes point out he has provided ten assists and is forming an increasingly impressive understanding with Lionel Messi.What is striking about the Uruguayan is his need for respect. When it was paid to him at Liverpool by Brendan Rodgers, who spoke to Suarez privately in Spanish and asked to be given a chance to prove his methods, he responded.That type of respect has to be earned in stellar company at Barca, and his relentless work ethic and patience under external pressure has been duly noted. His aggression enables them to press high, if required.The fact his team-mates have deferred to his recent knowledge of the Premier League – he is, after all our current Footballer of the Year – adds to the sense of increasing integration. He would argue he was merely pointing out the obvious when he highlighted City’s defence as their weak link. They have conceded 13 goals in their last ten fixtures, and appear ominously vulnerable to pace and movement.Suarez will probably play wide, as close to the shoulder of the last defender as possible. He will seek to profit from the sort of fast, fluid counter attack which offers an alternative to Barca’s traditional possession game.He will play the role of pantomime villain to perfection. City fans have not forgotten his provocative performance in his last appearance against them, for Liverpool at Anfield in April, which included a trademark dive.It is easy to rustle the crinolines, and suggest he is an insult to the supposed spirit of the game. But the fact remains that anti-heroes are box office.Suarez will demand attention tonight, on his return to an English stage. That is not the type of opportunity he usually wastes. Stand by for howls of outrage, and purrs of pleasure.last_img

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