Both England and Uruguay can see their reflections in the gleam of the guillotine as they’re marched towards the World Cup chopping block, but, in the eyes of many, the return of Los Charruas talisman Luis Suarez is all the South American outfit will require to swerve a group-stage beheading.
The Liverpool man’s hurried re-ingratiation into Oscar Tabarez’s side, however, may well just be what the Three Lions need in order to get the better of the two-time world champions.
A price of 21/20 makes Roy Hodgson’s men favourites for the skirmish in Sao Paulo, which suggests the laying moguls at bwin HQ are subscribed to our theory that Suarez will hinder, not help, the Uruguayans’ cause.
Here are our reasons why England need not be fearful:
The Premier League’s chief terroriser of defences isn’t anywhere near full fitness.
Having undergone an operation to repair a meniscus tear less than a month ago, Uruguay and Suarez have blitzed their way through the standard rehab procedures that typically takes around six weeks to complete.
As England and Wayne Rooney can confirm from their 2006 experience, heaping faith in half-fit players frequently fails to reap rewards at major tournaments and Suarez, who hasn’t played since the final day of the Premier League season, will soon be in agreement.
The Liverpool-originating Three Lions contingent is well practised in stopping Suarez.
Steven Gerrard, Jordan Henderson, Glen Johnson, Daniel Sturridge and Raheem Sterling spend every day on the training pitch with the Uruguayan at Liverpool and will have his weaknesses well cased and conveyed to the England backline.
In six meetings with non-teammates who’ll be lining up in the English defence, Suarez scored just two goals last term.
For the all accolades he received in 2013/14, the Reds’ number seven didn’t tend to do that much damage against fellows of similar stature.
He couldn’t find the net in four matches with Manchester City’s Joe Hart and Chelsea’s Gary Cahill, while he only hit just two of the seven his side managed in home and away derbies with Everton, for whom England adversaries Leighton Baines and Phil Jagielka play.