It’s not often I get to commend FIFA, and I won’t now.
However, I will say that they got it right with the Luis Suarez sanction. It is extremely harsh, as it should be, and sadly, it dramatically affects Liverpool.
Already I see fans attacking the ban, and blaming FIFA, but there is only one person to blame for this and it is the guy who sank his teeth into human flesh. Nine matches means possibly Suarez will also miss next year’s Copa America in addition to 13 Liverpool matches that include nine in the Premier League, three Champions League and one League Cup game.
Liverpool once again has learned the hard way that dancing with the devil generally ends with you splayed out on the floor, bleeding from a massive head wound. Three times now Suarez has sullied the club’s name, not to mention on two occasions he tried to leverage a move away from Anfield. Surely now is the time to cut ties. Losing over 30 goals a season is one tough pill to swallow, but spend the money wisely (do not ask Tottenham for advice) and all is not lost.
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My thoughts on the group phase:
• It did grind to a halt Thursday, didn't it? Groups G and H hardly provided the champagne football that we've grown to expect, but then with so much on the line it's understandable. Respect to Germany. Despite all the collusion talk, there is no doubt that the Germans went for it—that Philipp Lahm sliding block late in the match personified him as a player and competitor. That being said, only one good match for Germany so far, and they are far from peak form, which is probably about where they want to be.
• Belgium has teased us and advanced with three straight wins. Of concern for Marc Wilmots is that so far his side has been a second-half team. Three poor first halves have been saved by improved second-half performances, generally after the Origi kid arrived on the scene. Start him!
• Cristiano Ronaldo will take some flack for his World Cup performance, which of course will be unfair. Clearly not at 100 percent, he still managed to be his team’s best player by a mile, and on another day would have had a hat trick against Ghana. Portugal is a limited side, but Joao Moutinho and Bruno Alves were hugely disappointing. If there is a positive it has to be the composure shown by William Carvalho. This kid seems to have many of the tools to be great.
• Africa should be celebrating Nigeria and Algeria. Ghana, so engaging on the field, leaves the tournament in disgrace. Forced to send two players home on the day of their final group game was bad enough. But the very fact that a plane literally full of cash was flown over to meet the players’ demands is both vulgar and deplorable. I have no idea who is to blame for this embarrassment; I am sure a little of both sides. But the very fact that can actually happen screams to me that Ghanaian soccer is in a very dark place.