Heroes & Villains: Superhuman Suarez and gruesome Greeks
Is it a bird, it is a plane? No, it’s super Suarez, the bionic man who bagged a brace to sink England a mere month after undergoing surgery on his meniscus. To mere mortals like us, that’s the pivot on which his knee turns.
Suarez went through a rigorous regime of triple training sessions to be fit, and mercilessly punished Three Lions errors. His legs almost buckled under him when scoring the winner, but he was still the difference at only 75 per cent. A hero to Uruguay, we could equally have put him in the villains section if we took the England fans’ perspective.
Croatia frontman Mandzukic made his return from suspension, and was magnificent against a Cameroon outfit that played like a loose confederation of individuals. Assisted ably by veteran stager Ivica Olic and Ivan Perisic out wide, Super Mario made sure the blue Blazers dominated the so-called Indomitable Lions. More on their fractious team spirit below.
The saying goes that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Marco van Basten might just be a little jealous of Socceroos star striker Cahill replicating that famous volley, though. Now a veteran at 34, Australia’s leading marksman scored a sumptuous strike off his weaker left foot that crashed the crossbar and banged into the back of the net, prompting celebrations that saw the corner flag take a walloping.
Already booked early on against England, Uruguay’s stand-in skipper put in a blatant bodycheck on Daniel Sturridge, and Madrid-born Spanish referee Carlos Velasco Carballo bottled it big time by not brandishing a second yellow. Godin, a La Liga title winner with Atletico Madrid, made his mark and got away with it, but he was less like Zorro and more akin to nemesis Governor Alvarado.
Kostas Mitroglou/Kostas Katsouranis
This not so dynamic duo both continue to let Greece, who have never been panicked into playing football, down. Like a very low budget Batman and Robin, Mitroglou and Katsouranis’ limited crime-fighting abilities need to be turned on themselves.
Felix Magath was right, the former’s fitness is a joke, but not one we would relish seeing in a comic book. Mitroglou went off after half an hour, his only contribution a wayward shot. A whack in the ribs from Atsuto Uchida hardly hurt his face!
Skipper Katsouranis, meanwhile, practically crashed the Pirate Ship onto the rocks World Cup elimination when he picked up two deserved yellows in a little over 10 minutes. Greece must now somehow beat the Ivory Coast to stay in Brazil.
There’s a fine line between comedy and tragedy, and the public implosion of Cameroon, sparked by Alex Song’s maddening dismissal for elbowing Mandzukic in the back, illustrates this nicely. We must let the ex-Arsenal man become a scapegoat, though.
Monstrous egos demanded money over bonus payments before a ball was even kicked, well they won’t be getting much now. The Indomitable Lions turned on one another, pride went out the window as Benoit Assou-Ekotto went literally head-to-head with Benjamin Moukandjo. Greed can be a terrible thing!