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Old Trafford reunion with Juan Mata looms for Mario Suarez

Mario Suarez enjoys the big games. He would have been gutted the Atletico Madrid-Real Madrid derby on Saturday was at the same time as Watford-Bournemouth but he got his big-game fix at Wembley stadium yesterday for the Capital One Cup final.

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Suarez has previous for taking pressure penalties (he scored one in Atletico Madrid’s round of 16 win over Bayer Leverkusen last season) so the dramatic shootout between Liverpool and Manchester City would have got his competitive juices flowing. As well as enjoying the big games, he’s a big-match player and it would be no surprise if Quique Sanchez Flores restored him to the starting XI for Wednesday’s tough-looking assignment at Manchester United’s imposing citadel.

He may well be asked to keep tabs on Juan Mata and deny him space at Old Trafford, particularly as he is hugely familiar with the United playmaker having played international youth football with him. Suarez knows Sanchez Flores will have been watching United thrillingly defeat Arsenal yesterday with his tactical head on.

Pictures by Paul Dawson
Pictures by Paul Dawson

“Quique has done a wonderful job in every team, in Atletico, in Getafe, he did an amazing job there and he is doing an amazing job here,” he said in an interview with Gillette Soccer Saturday. “He is very clear about what he wants, he wants to play good football but sees that work and organisation is very important for a team. We believe in what he says, he works really hard in every single match. He says every match is different and he always tells us what we can do to hurt the other team, and what we have to do to not get hurt by them.”

Suarez has been slowly integrated into life at Watford. He’s not been thrown in at the deep end – like Valon Behrami, Sebastian Prodl, Etienne Capoue, Allan Nyom, Jose Holebas and Jose Manuel Jurado initially were – but neither has he been held back, like Obbi Oulare, Steven Berghuis and Adlene Guedioura have been. He came on for three minutes against Chelsea, got a chastening 45 against a dominant Tottenham Hotspur, came off the bench for the last 19 against Crystal Palace, played the full 90 against Leeds and then, finally, was summoned off the bench for the last half an hour against Bournemouth to help padlock a point.

Pictures by Paul Dawson
Pictures by Paul Dawson

“I have watched Suarez,” said Charlie Nicholas. “He can get about, is a big physical presence, and he will adapt to it, in the Premier League. I think Flores is saying ‘I will improve this team, but in little bits.'”

Having played for Spain three times and reached the Champions League final and won La Liga with Atletico, Suarez is quite a big bit in Sanchez Flores’ jigsaw. Suarez did his homework on Watford as soon as he learned of Sanchez Flores’ interest in bringing him to Vicarage Road.

Pictures by Paul Dawson
Pictures by Paul Dawson

“When I saw Watford before I signed for them I saw a team that gives 100% in every game, that was the most important thing,” said Suarez who turned 29 earlier this month. “They fight every moment in the game, it is a very humble team and when I sign and I come here I see that everything I felt is true. What I see is how it is. I see it is a very good team, even the coach and all the people that work as the staff. Our target is to continue in the Premier League for another year. The season is going amazing.”