The fire and the flair of Luis Suárez and Daniel Sturridge at Liverpool
You suspect that if Sturridge and Suarez both had to describe their own personal hell, each His personal relationship with Messi was good. Daniel Sturridge has said his occasionally fiery relationship with Luis Suárez has been a crucial factor in Liverpool's title challenge. All the world is a stage but Luis Suárez and Daniel Sturridge were more . provided one fitting last act in the Suárez and Sturridge relationship.
His subsequent terrible injury luck has clouded the memory of many but make no mistake, the undisputed best English centre-forward at the time plied his trade at Anfield. The results of throwing a volatile South American into the mix were predictably seismic. Each was equally capable of picking the other out or taking on their marker with consummate ease, and the movement was simply impossible to defend against. Countless established defenders and goalkeepers were made to look foolish over the course of the season.
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There was little to be done when the pair descended upon a backline. This particular two-man show proved to be a sign of things to come. Much of the beauty of the partnership that came to be known as SAS was the way in which it harnessed a certain volatility to such deadly effect. The two strikers undeniably struck a chord, but it was at times a jarring one.
Scoring was ostensibly the currency of both forwards and a kind of rivalry developed. If one decided to go up a level, the other instantly responded with a refusal to be outdone.
A game against West Brom sticks particularly firmly in the mind. He opened the scoring with a trademark winding run through the defence, followed by a powerful finish into the corner. The hat-trick was completed with a second header, a delicate glance into the far post from a corner. Nine league goals in his first season was a poor return.
When Suarez eventually became available after the ban, Luis Enrique 's first idea was to fit him in on the right. He set up a goal for Neymar inside three minutes of his first start against Real Madrid. Three more assists followed in the next four games.
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But there were still no goals. He asked Messi to move to the right to accommodate Suarez at centre-forward. It was brave because asking Messi to move out of the middle is really asking a lot. That's not so much because Messi is selfish, as because he has to live up to a unique set of standards. He has scored at the rate of a goal a game for the last six seasons.
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If he is not scoring a goal a game, everyone starts asking what's wrong with him. Simple football logic dictates that if you are not playing in the middle, it's harder to score.
Messi hasn't agreed to everything Luis Enrique has asked him to do this season, but maybe he went along with this idea because he gets on with and respects Suarez, his fellow football-obsessed square.
That was significant, but perhaps not as significant as the fact that Messi then proceeded to score a hat-trick from the wing. Since that night Suarez has been playing in the middle, with Messi on the right.Daniel Sturridge interview: I'm not on texting terms with Luis Suarez
Barcelona have played 36 games, losing two, drawing two, and winning a scarcely believable Messi has scored 34 goals with 15 assists, Neymar has 20 goals with three assists, Suarez has 23 goals with 12 assists, and the initial anxiety has been swept away by his obvious and immense joy at having finally established himself on the grand stage he has been working towards all his life.
Suarez's success shows that Pep Guardiola wasn't wrong to seek a penalty box "reference point" when he signed Ibrahimovic. He just signed the wrong player. The Swede once angrily informed Guardiola that at kilos, he wasn't built for running around all day. Messi, who runs less than any top forward in the gameneeds the players around him to move. Suarez's irrepressible energy and deceptive power has turned out to be the perfect complement.
Suarez beats up the defenders, runs them into the ground, opens up the spaces for Messi to do his work. Paradoxically, by taking over the central attacking position in which Messi had excelled for several years, the Uruguayan has liberated Messi to become an even more dominant figure in the play.
Steven Gerrard and Lucas Leiva have become very solid fulcrums for the attacking talents and with already this season their interchange has been impressive. Coutinho and Sturridge in particular have shown a willingness to drift away from their usual positions. Against Swansea and Southampton Moses and Henderson also demonstrated this trait and this is something Suarez can do extremely well. Last season, before his suspension, he was forming a really interesting partnership with the likes of Sturridge, Coutinho and Stewart Downing.
If you put Suarez behind Sturridge with Moses and Henderson out wide then you will have all four attackers capable of freely interchanging, a mouth-watering attacking prospect indeed.
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The problem arises when Coutinho returns from injury. He will surely come back into the side and once again the person most at risk would appear to be Henderson. With Coutinho tucking in behind Sturridge you would expect Suarez and Moses to occupy the wide roles. The thing is with this formation, although there are set starting roles the players are free to move as and when they like. Additionally all four or six if you include Aspas and Henderson are very disciplined and in their tougher games they can stay to their positions with less interchanging.
It is an excellent dilemma for Rodgers to have on his hands and one that he did not have last season.