Guillem Balague has coupled watching glittering football World Cup football with listening out for the tournament’s key quotes.
Over the course of the South American shindig, the Revista regular has been analysing the best soundbites from the players and managers involved.
It's been a frantic few days in Brazil after Uruguay striker Luis Suarez was kicked out of the World Cup for sinking his teeth into an Italian.
Victim Giorgio Chiellini has said the punishment of four months in the doghouse is too much, while others have said it is not long enough.
In this column, Guillem dissects the reaction to Suarez's four-month ban, Argentina's tactical conundrum and Paul Scholes' suggestion that foreign players are ruining England's chances…
HE SAID: "These are just things that happen out on the pitch. It was just the two of us inside the area and he bumped into me with his shoulder."
GUILLEM’S ASSESSMENT: Luis will have to ask for forgiveness to help Barcelona (or even Madrid, but the Catalans are favourites) sell the idea he wants to reform, that he is a player worth having at their club. The problem is, he has asked for forgiveness before and not enough work has been put in place for him to study and correct that awful, weird instinct he has.
So we are back to square one – or worse, in the absence of an apology. It can be corrected but it doesn’t help if FIFA tried to please the hysteria. He had to be punished – I have no problem with the nine games and the money fine, but four months away from work? Why do Liverpool have to pay for his mistake? I have the feeling the games and the money is the sporting punishment. The four months is FIFA’s reaction to hysteria – plus something else: they are trying to punish the person (and they are doing so using FIFA rules) as well as trying to give an example to the world.
But I don’t give them the moral stand that you require to judge not a player, but a person, when they are such a controversial organisation. I think the months will be reduced on appeal and will start looking like the punishment his unsporting and violent behavior deserves. I still think it is worse to break a leg on purpose than to bite, and I feel a reduction of his punishment will reflect that. Anyway, at the end of this story, there is a man with a problem. If he was your kid, would you call him a monster?
FIFA VICE PRESIDENT JIM BOYCE
HE SAID: “I think the punishment that has been handed out to Luis Suarez is fully justified. Hopefully he will have learnt that this type of behaviour cannot be tolerated under any circumstances."
GUILLEM’S ASSESSMENT: Punishment has not worked for him before. There is more work to be done if there is real interest to correct him. Barcelona think that if they dealt with Hristo Stoichkov and Samuel Eto’o before, they can deal with Luis Suárez.
ARGENTINA MANAGER ALEJANDRO SABELLA
HE SAID: “We started improving from the point of view of structure. We see an improvement."
GUILLEM’S ASSESSMENT: Sabella has betrayed his earlier reflection – that the team needed more defenders. The team has got Angel di María, Lionel Messi, Gonzalo Higuaín and had Sergio Aguero but he will be missing the rest of the World Cup. Those players want their energies to attack, so the team will always get parted in two. Hence his try at five defenders not only against Bosnia but in some qualifiers. The players asked him to change and he has done so. Against Iran their fluidity was a concern. Against Nigeria, with less pressure from the midfield, the ball moved faster and the injury of Agüero might have worked in their favour – Ezequiel Lavezzi is a winger who is used to working harder defensively. So, Argentina, little by little, accident by accident, Messi goal by Messi goal, are approaching their best version.
HE SAID: "Simply, the Premier League is riddled with average foreign players. This is having such a detrimental effect on the first-team opportunities for young English talent, and our international results."
GUILLEM’S ASSESSMENT: There you go. Foreigners are to blame! End of story. Looking forward to Euro 2016.
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