Cyprus Mail
World Cup

Munching match-winner Suarez toothless

Uruguay's Luis Suarez made his first appearance at the World Cup since being banned for biting Italy's Giorgio Chiellini four years ago in Brazil

There was a lot of talk over the weekend on the perennial Cristiano Ronaldo v Lionel Messi ‘greatest’ debate.

The Portuguese hit a hat-trick against Spain while his Argentine rival made the headlines for the wrong reasons after missing a penalty against Iceland.

There is no real, definitive answer but for me, Ronaldo is the better all-round player. He has won the Champions League and league titles with two teams in two different countries and is also a European champion with Portugal.

While Messi has been brilliant at Barcelona he has often disappointed with Argentina (I will eat my words if he leads the South Americans to the World Cup title on July 15).

Put them both in a poor team or play them on a cold, miserable Monday night in Stoke and I have a feeling Ronaldo would perform better. Yes, CR7 is an arrogant so-and-so but football is not a popularity contest.

It was shocking to see David de Gea’s howler against Portugal. The man has simply been god-like for Manchester United over several years so it was a real shame to see him produce such a major error at a World Cup Finals. Perhaps he was concussed like Loris Karius.

I was also interested to see Luis Suarez back at the World Cup. Playing his first match at the Finals since being banned for biting Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini four years ago in Brazil, the munching match-winner was toothless against Egypt and needed team-mate Jose Gimenez to score a 90th-minute winner.

Watching Serbia v Costa Rica on Sunday, I noticed that 10 of Serbia’s starting XI had names ending in ‘ic’. This reminded me of Brazil 2014 when the Netherlands took on Chile. Robin van Persie’s absence from the starting team due to suspension meant that the Dutch took to the field without a player with a ‘van’ in their surname for the first time in 18 years and 221 matches.

It was also embarrassing to see whole rows of prime pitch-side seats empty during the Egypt v Uruguay match. Locals had to pay nearly a third of an average monthly salary for a poorer view.

The official attendance for Friday’s game at Ekaterinburg Arena was 27,015, according to FIFA, at a stadium which has had its capacity expanded to 33,061.

A spokesman for world football’s governing body said the empty seats were mainly linked to ‘no-shows’ from all constituent groups.


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