Two months ago, I had the pleasure to attend Chelsea's match against Liverpool at Stamford Bridge. Beyond being one of the best displays of football I've seen in ages, seeing English footballs top two sides (as of last night) clash was an emotional rollercoaster for fans of both colours. It was also hugely informative about England's most dangerous opponent and just how he can be stopped.
You see, while England will face a host of foes in their march to the final in Brazil, only Luis Suarez gives me heart palpitations. Having scored 24 goals in 23 appearances for Liverpool, he is without a doubt the Uruguay's dangerman. On that brisk December night, every touch Suarez made brought a tense hush to the crowd as we collectively inched towards the edge of our seats. Capable of capturing lightning in a bottle with his dynamic displays - creating and scoring in equal amounts this season - his flair makes him an unpredictable character. His constant torment of Norwich is legendary, scoring some of his finest goals past John Ruddy and making the Canaries look like a pub team. Suarez has the one quality that denotes a truly world-class player - he has a consistent knack for making defenders look like idiots.
Against Southampton yesterday, Suarez's pace and trickery were on full display, snapping up the opener before turning provider for Raheem Sterling and attempting to find Daniel Sturridge several times over the course of the match. Pressing an otherwise excellent Southampton side, he was Liverpool's x-factor, conjuring moves often against the run of play (his opposite number Adam Lallana was having an absolute stormer). At Chelsea, Suarez was everywhere. With no Sturridge to play as a foil, he was tasked with terrorizing John Terry and Gary Cahill almost individually and did a splendid job, pressuring the centre halves and, upon Ashley Cole's introduction midway through the first half, tore the left back to pieces. Despite not getting the goal his play would usually merit, he left no doubt in anyone's mind that he is play of quality.
Merit aside, Suarez is human and, like all players, can be stopped. The brick wall pairing of Terry and Cahill consistently resisted Suarez's challenge, doing excellently to silence the Uruguayan. Should England hope to do the same in Brazil, a similar pairing is paramount. Cahill is nailed on - his ability to suffocate playmakers has improved drastically since his move from Bolton - and, with paired with, say, Phil Jagielka, could ensure that Liverpool's maestro is silenced by England.