Italy players celebrate UEFA Euro championship after their 3-2 shootout win against England at Wembley Stadium in England: UFEA

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Suarez on shortlist for UEFA Best Player

International Sports

Luiz Suarez top bet for UEFA award Luiz Suarez top bet for UEFA award The Argentine and the Portuguese will be the most famous men on the podium, but there’s an outside chance that the Uruguayan walks away with the award.


Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Barcelona’s Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez are the three finalists for the 2014-15 UEFA Best Player in Europe Award, which will be handed on Aug. 27 at the Champions League group stage draw. As is typical, the case for each finalist is compelling, for different reasons.

 

The award was created in 2011, replacing the UEFA Club Footballer of the Year award, and if either Messi or Ronaldo wins, it will be the third time for either, including both classifications.


Lionel Messi, who in the past few seasons has catapulted himself to superstar status, broke the all-time record for goals in La Liga in March.

 

What’s interesting is Messi was doing that on a team that not only includes the other finalist Suarez, but also Brazilian star Neymar.

 

The three finished with 122 total goals. But the fact that Messi’s output was so high on a team so stacked with scorers says a lot about the level of his game during the last campaign. He also broke the record for La Liga assists in February, a stat the league only started keeping 25 years ago.

Ronaldo, continued his torrid streak and led La Liga in goals last season with 48 goals, 61 overall in competitions and even notched five in one game four in a single half. He then closed out the season with three straight hat tricks.

 

It was an impressive season from a guy who would widely be considered the best player in the world — if it weren’t for Messi.

But the last man on the list’s path to the podium is a bit different.

When Suarez left Liverpool, he was the best player in the Barclay’s Premier League and had the hardware to prove it.

 

In 2014, he won the Professional Footballers’ Association Players’ player of the year the first non-European to do so, the Football Association Writers’ player of the year, the Barclay’s Premier League player of the season awards and won the Premier League Golden Boot.

Then he bit Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini at the World Cup.

The subsequent penalty kept him out of matches with his club for four months. He was sold to Barcelona for nearly 100 million Euros, a monster transfer fee for one of the best players in Europe.

 

The penalty was lessened, but his season with the team didn’t start until nearly Halloween. His first goal with Barca came during the group stage of the Champions League. It was a lovely dummy turn with a deft finish that beat three players into the net. It was a reminder of just how deadly he can be.

Suarez fit in well at Camp Nou, and his strikes were huge. He notched a game winner in March over Real Madrid, a hell of hit that BeIN’s Ray Hudson called a “slingshot” in his praise.

But the real case for Suarez continues in the Champions League. He netted two against Manchester City in the first leg of their round-of-16 matchup. Then, in the first leg of the quarterfinal vs.

 

Paris Saint-Germain he put together two goals that thoroughly embarrassed David Luiz via nutmeg and demonstrated how he can thoroughly dominate a game without a excessive number of touches.

And in the final against Juventus, his touch didn’t fail him. In a bit of a poacher’s goal from a Messi buildup, Suarez knocked home a tally that broke the tie and would turn out to the game winner as Barca went on to win their fifth Champions League title.

He wasn’t the biggest in Spain, necessarily. But against the best in Europe, he was massive. He rebounded from the biting incident, landed on a great team and led it to much success.

 

Suarez is the longest shot to win here with two true legends of the game on the ballot, but for an award that’s selected by journalists, he might end up at the top of the list — because he’s certainly the best story.

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