One of the most impressive things about Raheem Sterling’s performance against Switzerland last night was the way he refused to back down in the face of challenges from experienced Swiss opponents.
Sterling had a terrific game in several areas and his development with Liverpool and England was demonstrated physically when he went head-to-head against former West Ham midfielder Valon Behrami, who he out powered to win a free kick.
Sterling’s slight and agile frame is deceptive because his core strength seems to have improved dramatically and the praise for that falls at the feet of his club boss Brendan Rodgers.
In terms of duels won this season, Sterling is joint second with only Dejan Lovren, a defender, ahead of him in this key area.
That suggests that he’s more willing to get involved in challenges against opponents who are physically bigger than him and he’s coming out on top due to his skill and determination.
He makes it difficult for opposition sides because one of the ways teams will look to keep him quiet is to bully him physically. Now that he’s countering that, it’s time for opponents to think of new tactics and time for Liverpool to reap the benefits.