Heskey: Benzema will be a handful for Nigeria
Emile Heskey has heaped praise on the France striker and believes the Super Eagles will find it tough to cope with him in their tie.
The former England and Liverpool striker and now a Sony Team Ambassador at the World Cup in Brazil, looks at some of the striking talent on show.
France look like they’ve left their troubles of previous World Cups behind them and as the goals records tumble, it’s certainly helping Karim Benzema. He has been described as much-maligned but I think he’s always been a great player.
Obviously Real Madrid saw something in him when they paid 35million Euros to Lyon for him. He’s got tremendous ability and that’s really starting to shine through in a France squad that seems so together this time.
They are having a good laugh and getting on well, which is showing through in their performances. With players like Yohan Cabaye and Momo Sissoko doing well too, he’s part of a good blend. He’s netted three times already and he’s going to be a handful for Nigeria in the last 16.
But he’s just one of several talented centre-forwards on show. After many years of players finding it hard to be fresh after a long, hard season, they don’t seem to be affected this time.
The striker that’s impressed me the most is Thomas Muller. Just one word sums him up – efficient. He has been Germany’s goal-getter, netting nine times in nine career World Cup games. If he carries on like that he’ll break the World Cup scoring record shared by his team mate Miroslav Klose and Ronaldo.
Muller’s my favourite to win the Golden Boot because I honestly don’t think the Germans have got out of second gear yet, they’ve not really been put under pressure by anyone, so they can go again and Muller will only benefit from that.
Lionel Messi is always going to be in with a chance of the Golden Boot too. As you could see with his two goals against Nigeria, he is capable of pulling anything out of the hat. But the problem for Messi is that Argentina are relying on him too much, but when you’ve got that much ability perhaps it’s not surprising.
The other contender is Neymar. What can you say: Neymar is Neymar. Brazil are my favourites to win the tournament as I’ve said before, although they only just scraped past what were my dark horses, Chile, who were very impressive on the day.
And what about Luis Suarez? Well, of course it’s all over for this one-time Golden Boot contender. Liverpool are bearing the brunt of the Suarez situation more than the Uruguay national team.
You can’t condone what he’s done but his ban means he’s going to be missing nine Premier League games and three Champions League games – even though it happened on international duty.
When he got suspended it was just for domestic games. Liverpool will feel hard done by and I’m sure they will be looking into it. They’ve lost arguably the best player in the world at the moment. That’s a mighty blow.
I’ve never been bitten. I remember one other incident in a Tottenham v West Ham match but when I look at the incidents during games throughout my career they’ve all been elbows, tripping, pulling back – all that sort of stuff.
Biting is really unusual, three times by one player is highly unusual and I’m sure Liverpool will be looking to do something that will help the player and themselves.