Up until about the 80th minute of the Uruguay vs. Italy game on Tuesday night, the most shocking thing about this World Cup had been Dani Alves’ stupid haircut. That all changed, however, when Uruguay forward Luis Suarez sank his teeth into the shoulder of Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini.
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While the world media will doubtless call for Suarez’s public execution under the “three strikes and you’re out” rule (he was previously banned for the same offense at Liverpool and Ajax, the latter also involving a shoulder), Suarez has undoubtedly introduced the one element that was missing from this World Cup: a Twitter feeding frenzy. We will leave the moralizing for others and just make a few points:
1. You can’t call this Uruguay attack toothless.
2. The shoulder is nothing. Suarez went for the jugular against England.
3. It will be a brave journalist who asks Suarez for a sound bite after the game.
4. We can only be grateful the Italians didn’t select the little-known Parma defender Al Dente.
We can safely assume that Suarez’s World Cup is as good as over, even though his team-mates qualified for the last 16 after the narrowest of victories over Italy. Italian coach Cesare Prandelli did the decent thing afterward and fell on his sword – before he could be fed to the Italian press or, even worse, Luis Suarez.
And so the Italians join England as the big fat losers of Group D, with Costa Rica topping the group. England finished the tournament winless, although clueless would be a more apt description for their performances.
In retrospect, the only memorable moment came when team physio Gary Lewin managed to break his ankle after the equalizing goal against Italy. “That was a very sad moment for us,” coach Roy Hodgson said afterward. “In celebrating the goal he jumped up, landed on a water bottle and dislocated his ankle.” Thank God England only scored once more in the whole tournament, or it could have been a bloodbath on the bench.
Still, it’s not all bad for England. Israeli mentalist Uri Geller has offered his services to the side. Indeed, he even expressed surprise that his skills hadn’t been seized upon already. The man’s right: If you need someone to show you how to bend the ball around a defensive wall, Uri’s got to be your man.
Group C made headlines for the right reason on Tuesday night, with Greece joining Colombia in the last 16. The Greeks, normally even more defense-minded than an Israeli budget, actually played some great offense against Ivory Coast. They hit the woodwork no fewer than three times, but as the clock ticked down, it looked like the West Africans were going to advance. Then, a penalty for Greece in the last seconds of stoppage time: Georgios Samaras versus the wonderfully named keeper Barry Copa. Samaras scores (not a sentence Celtic fans have ever heard that much), the ancient Greeks (with one of the oldest squad at the tournament) advance, the Ivorians head home. Just look out for Luis Suarez at the airport.
Bosnia-H vs. Iran, 7 P.M.
Argentina vs. Nigeria, 7 P.M.
Ecuador vs. France, 9 P.M.
Switzerland vs. Honduras, 9 P.M.