In the second of his World Cup blogs, Stuart Chinaloy (@FalseNlne) discusses the tournament’s biggest talking point and what England must do looking forward.
Oh Luís. I was just getting to like you.
In no way can I defend your infamous clash with Patrice Evra, and double battery attempts at Branislav Ivanovic and Otman Bakkal.
Nonetheless, being the fickle Arsenal-supporting football fan that I am, I was blinded by the sublime goals and outrageous nutmegs. So, why do you go and do this, Luís? Sinking your teeth into a seemingly appetising Italian shoulder is the final straw. You’ll no doubt be banned for a sustained period of time that will might even see you miss the start of the 2014/15 domestic season (although this probably won’t stop you gobbling-up another golden boot).
Make no mistake, Suárez’s bite really was shocking. Like many others when they first witnessed the incident with Chiellini, I thought it was a poor attempt at winning a cynical penalty, or earn a card the Italian defender. Then, the replays. I was incredulous.
The referee Marco Rodriguez, whose nickname is ironically ‘Dracula’, did nothing but wave away protests from the Italians, which left a sour taste in the mouth. Even more so post match when Chiellini, in an attacking interview, said: “The referee saw the bite mark, too, but he did nothing about it”.
Chiellini also went on to challenge FIFA to take retrospective action, and they must.
In the US, a third conviction gets you life in jail. Although this won’t be the case considering that life-time football bans are rare – usually reserved for villainous cheats, match fixers, hooligans and racists.
Suárez, of course, by having the previous convictions must be given a lengthy ban. Suárez knows it himself; he’s guilty. His restrained and muted celebrations with his compatriots were evident, he even looked angered, disappointed at his actions after the final whistle. Uruguay deservedly won, after shutting down Italy and Atletico Madrid’s Diego Godin scored what’s now becoming a trademark headed goal has already become an after thought.
After the win against England, Suarez admitted that it was a particularly special moment for him because, “too many people in England laughed” at his attitude. He had his revenge against the British press and it must have tasted sweet. His outpouring of emotion when lifted by his teammates showed it all.
His brace all but finished any chance of England reaching the last sixteen. He looked like a man who had turned a corner, leaving behind his past, focussing on football. Unfortunately, he’s only confirmed beliefs that he’s a brilliant yet hugely flawed footballer.
What have England really learnt?
England finish with a solitary point following a drab 0-0 with Costa Rica. A game which had many wholesale team changes pointed towards England’s future without Gerrard, Jagielka, Johnson and perhaps even Rooney.
The ‘Golden Generation’ has likely had it’s last failure. Going into this tournament I was pleased with Hodgson’s decision in removing experience and replacing it with youth. The likes of Shaw, Henderson and Barkley are undoubtedly the future, and this tournament will be great in terms of experience for this ‘new core’, but that’s not enough. We expected more.
However, there are positives to take. It’s fairly clear which young players we need to build around. Henderson ,for me, has had the greatest impact. The energetic box-to-box midfielder was excellent in shielding a depleted Gerrard, and he must be at the base of England’s midfield going forward. His short quick passing and sensible reading of the game will be a necessity as he should be paired with Wilshere.
When fit, he’s England’s most creative and pressing player. The Arsenal midfielder’s direct running, passing and transitions in turning defence into attack were missed in England’s opening encounters – especially so against the Italians.
Against Costa Rica he provided Sturridge with two chances, one of which the Liverpool forward should have taken. His adventurous passing was a clear threat, and one we lacked when trying to break down both the Uruguayan and Italian defences.
There was also a promising start to Luke Shaw’s England future. Leighton Baines has been one of the world’s best attacking left backs in recent seasons, and it’s a position where England have great depth. His introduction into team with a role similar to that of Baines, constantly overlapping providing width as a dangerous outlet. He’ll no doubt feature heavily in future England squads and if his reported move to Manchester United goes through, I expect him to take over from Baines fairly quickly.
England’s Brazil campaign will go down as a failure. Hodgson will likely lead England in Euro16 qualification with continued trust in youth. While not successful, it should leave us on track for Greg Dyke’s 2022 World Cup win.
“Hamez” Rodriguez – playmaker of the tournament?
An injury to James Rodriguez’s Monaco colleague Radamel Falcao rocked Colombia before the start of this World Cup. The talisman of Jose Pékerman’s impressive side scored freely in CONMEBOL qualification made Colombia dark horses.
However, Rodriguez in Falcao’s absence, has become the fulcrum of this side. This South American outfit has destroyed the teams that have allowed the left-footed winger time and space.
The second half in which he played against Japan a particular highlight. Japan pushing for a win that may have seen them qualify meant they left huge spaces for Rodriguez to exploit. His four chances created, two assists and elegant goal were a snapshot of what he’s capable of.
Undoubtedly, the playmaker of the tournament so far with three assists and three goals, teams will be looking to close him down like Japan, Greece and the Ivory Coast have to far failed to do. Arévalo Rios in particular will be crucial for Uruguay in marshalling Rodriguez if they manage to qualify for the quarter finals and expect to see a reactive team from Oscar Tabarez, as he shuts down Colombia.
Counter-attacking options like Rodriguez, Cuadrado and the diminutive but wily Quintero.