England captain Steven Gerrard has labelled Liverpool teammate Luis Suarez a genius, ahead of Thursday evening’s decisive World Cup clash with Uruguay.
Coming off a fantastic 2013-14 season at Anfield, Suarez scored 31 Premier League goals in 33 games as the club narrowly missed out on the title to Manchester City, winning both the PFA and FWA Player of the Year awards in the process.
Eager to sing the Striker’s praises as a result, Gerrard however also noted that Oscar Tabarez’s side have other dangerous players who his England team must be wary of come their second Group D match in Sao Paulo.
‘Well, Luis Suarez is a genius. I’ve said that many, many times,’ he stated. ‘He’s a wonderful player. I think it’s going to be a big boost for the Uruguay players and their supporters to have him back, but they’re more than one player.
‘They have other good players around the pitch. They’re a strong team, so we treat Suarez like any other Uruguay player. Of course we’ve got huge respect for them as a team and Luis as an individual, and we have a gameplan in place to try to win this football match.’
Having missed the humbling 3-1 defeat to unfancied Costa Rica in their opener, Suarez looks to have finally recovered from the knee injury which required surgery at the end of the domestic season, with his return proving a massive coup for La Celeste.
Gerrard meanwhile is also coming off a strong season with Liverpool, in which he has earned widespread plaudits for adapting into a deeper role at the base of midfield under Brendan Rodgers.
With this World Cup almost certain to be the 34-year-old’s last, Brazil 2014 is likely a career-defining tournament for the veteran midfielder’s England record, following previous failures at the 2006 and 2010 tournaments.
Defeat for either side tonight could well spell the end of their summer and, with Roy Hodgson’s outfit facing a stern test up against the formidable strike-pairing of Suarez and Edinson Cavani, they will be looking to Gerrard to provide some inspiration at the heart of the lineup.