Gary Cahill backs Chelsea to heap more hurt on 'killer' striker Luis Suarez
Just as the rivalry between Chelsea and Barcelona resumes at Stamford Bridge, so too does that of Cahill and Suarez.
Both have landed painful blows on the other with their teams but Cahill has had to wait four years to avenge Suarez for his role in one of the worst moments of his career.
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The Uruguay striker beat Cahill to Steven Gerrard’s unintentional assist in the 85th minute to score his second goal of the game and dump England out of the last World Cup.
A year later, Cahill broke his nose during a pre-season friendly against Suarez’s Barcelona, although the damage was caused by goalkeeper Jordi Masip.
Suarez, though, has had his own troubles against the Blues. Without Cahill, who had a hamstring injury, Chelsea denied the forward in the 2012 FA Cup Final when they beat Liverpool 2-1.
A month before causing England’s heartbreak in 2014, Suarez was the one in tears as Cahill came off the bench to help Chelsea win 2-0 at Anfield and put a significant dent in his one real shot of winning the Premier League.
It is no wonder the Chelsea captain has mixed feelings about facing the 31‑year-old again. The centre-half told Standard Sport: “Suarez is one of the best strikers in the world. I have had my fair share of ups and downs against him.
“There have been games where he has killed me and won the game for the opposition, but I have also had moments where my team has won and it’s been good.
“There have been a lot of different performances but I have to respect he is a very special player.
“The last time I played against him in a competitive match was in the World Cup and I will never forget it. He scored a great first goal and the second was very fortunate because one of our players deflected the ball back towards our end and he went on to finish.
“It meant we were out of the World Cup. It wasn’t just one of my worst moments playing against him, it was one of the worst moments during my time in the game.
“I had good experiences too. Even though I was injured for the 2012 Cup final, I picked up a winners’ medal and there were also some big League wins against his Liverpool side.”
Suarez’s £75million move to Barcelona in 2014 — a month after the game with England (below) — means their paths have not crossed for some time.
The 31-year-old has taken his scoring to another level in Spain as his remarkable 143 goals for Barcelona shows. While much of the build-up to the first leg of the last 16 Champions League tie has focused on Lionel Messi, Cahill knows the damage Suarez can cause.
He said: “You have to be a special player to go to Barcelona and make your mark like he has done at a club where Messi is revered.
“Messi speaks highly of him too which says a lot, it speaks volumes. To go there and succeed at a club of that size you have to have all attributes. You can’t just be a good footballer, you have to be mentally strong, you have to be everything. He ticks all the boxes.”
One of those boxes reflects a characteristic the striker shares with former Chelsea forward Diego Costa, who moved to Atletico Madrid last September.
“I admire the fact Suarez is a skilful player but he also has that other side to him which top strikers need,” said Cahill. “It’s something Diego had. When things are going fantastically well and everything is great, of course things look good.
“But Suarez has that side when perhaps things aren’t so special and he will roll his sleeves up. To have that attribute in a player is important.
“You don’t just want someone who is there when things are rosy and doesn’t want to know when things go wrong. He is not that kind of bloke, he will go both ways.”
At Stamford Bridge this evening, though, Cahill will be doing his utmost to make sure things go his way.