Comment & analysis round-up
Quote of the day: “I am unhappy because this could break my dream of being recognised as the best forward in England this year. I’m not thinking about my future, but my image. I am not a violent player. What happened with Ivanovic was instinctive and I am very sorry.” – Luis Suarez.
Runner-up: “I think they were the best team by far. On every individual battle on the pitch they were stronger than us, they were more aggressive physically, they were more aggressive mentally so I think they deserve. How did it go from 1-1 to 4-1? I really don’t know.” – Jose Mourinho.
Luis Suarez: 10 Game Ban
Been there, got the T-shirt… beware the Anfield myopia (James Lawton, Independent) The FA is right to ban Luis Suarez for 10 games and as the ensuing furore will largely come down to a matter of numbers rather than the meaning of one disgusting act of recidivism, it is no hardship to say it at least a thousand times… We have the T-shirts to remind us they had a similar reaction when Suarez got eight games for racist abuse, which was one more than administered by the Dutch football authority when he committed his first biting offence two months before Ajax got him out of their building just as soon as they had cashed Liverpool’s £22m cheque. Now we have to brace ourselves for Liverpool’s latest defence of the indefensible.
Adios amigos (Steven Howard, Sun) Ten games — we won’t argue with that. Though, of course, if anyone else had bitten someone in the course of their work they would have been fired on the spot. So where do Liverpool and Luis Suarez go from here? Well, the Uruguayan is not as dumb as he looks or acts. He’s a streetwise urchin who will use any situation to his advantage. People within the club know that and would not be surprised if he got the hell out of it.
Suarez could walk away! Liverpool fear striker will quit over 10-match biting ban (Dominic King, Mail) He has been linked strongly with Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus, and will now talk things over with his agent, Pere Guardiola — the brother of incoming Bayern coach Pep — and his lawyers.
Luis Suarez ban: The FA is wrong to suggest a shocking but trivial bite is worse than racial abuse (Ollie Holt, Mirror) What he did was shocking, animalistic and stupid and fully warranted a ban from the game. But the offence was trivial. No one was hurt. The trainer was not called. There has not been any suggestion that Ivanovic needed medical attention. Ivanovic’s career was not endangered, as say Massadio Haidara’s was by Callum McManaman’s tackle when Wigan played Newcastle recently. And yet for this heinous nip, the FA has chosen to ban Suarez for 10 games. That’s two more than Suarez got for racially abusing Patrice Evra. That’s six more than John Terry got for racially abusing Anton Ferdinand. That’s 10 more than McManaman got for taking Haidara out at the knee. I’m sorry, but I think that’s instructive.
Borussia Dortmund 4 – Real Madrid 1
Lewandowski runs riot on Real with FOURsome display as Spanish Wembley dreams are shredded (Martin Samuel, Mail) Just what everyone was hoping for at Wembley next month. The first all-German European Cup final. Fussball’s coming home, everybody. Enjoy. And we will. No complaints here. Why should there be? It is nigh impossible to dispute the top two clubs in the Bundesliga as also the best in Europe right now, and while they might be 20 points apart domestically, to see them go at it hammer and tongs, donner und blitzen, for 90 minutes will still be a privilege.
Borussia Dortmund prevail over Real Madrid in tactical battle of tempo (Michael Cox, Guardian) Alonso struggled to cope with Mario Götze’s movement, with the Bayern-bound playmaker drifting either side of him to overload Real in wide areas. The fluidity from the Dortmund front four was marvellous. The wingers Marco Reus and Jakub Blaszczykowki often darted into the middle without problems with congestion and, although Dortmund’s forward running was primarily impressive because of the stamina levels, there was also an admirable selflessness about the decoy movement.
Marco Reus is a wonderful system-wrecker (Paul Doyle, Guardian) Football is simultaneously at its most systematised and its most chaotic at the highest level. It takes a special player to spread panic among meticulously drilled opponents. Cristiano Ronaldo can do it, of course, but so can Marco Reus and he demonstrated that with style on Wednesday night. His speed and dribbling skill, allied to Dortmund’s ability to get him running on to the ball in lines that would impress the All Blacks, had Real Madrid’s defenders abandoning their stations and scurrying hither and thither like children who had consumed far too much fizzy pop and had no real clue how to cope.
Fulham Transfer Targets
Fulham prepare £10m double swoop for Villa full-back Lowton and Roma keeper Stekelenburg (Simon Jones, Mail) Fulham are plotting a summer move for Aston Villa’s highly-rated defender Matthew Lowton. Martin Jol will face competition from Arsenal, who have watched the versatile 23-year-old extensively in recent weeks, but is willing to offer around £5million for the former Sheffield United full-back… Fulham remain in talks with Roma over a move for goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg and hope to reach agreement on a £5million transfer next month.
Other Transfer Lies
West Brom join Scott Sinclar chase (George Scott, Star) Baggies boss Steve Clarke failed in a January deadline day move to sign Sinclair. But they will now make more money available to meet the ex-Chelsea player’s wage demands. However, West Brom may face opposition with David Moyes at Everton and Aston Villa’s Paul Lambert both seeing Sinclair as ideal to support their young guns.
Jose’s Chelsea Return, Falcao Coming Too
Blue Jose’s Falcao bid (Anthony Kastrinakis, Sun) Jose Mourinho wants to take £53million Atletico Madrid superstar Radamel Falcao with him to Chelsea this summer. As exclusively revealed in SunSport, the Real Madrid boss is desperate to return to his old job at Stamford Bridge. And now we can reveal Mourinho has chosen Colombian ace Falcao to join his second coming. Falcao has a £53m buy-out clause and the Blues will take advantage of the ‘non-aggression pact’ that exists between Atletico and Real Madrid to swoop for the hitman.
Chelsea ‘seal Jose Mourinho return as manager and Radamel Falcao swoop’ (Neil Rowlands, Mirror) Jose Mourinho AND Radamel Falcao are on their way to Chelsea, according to a report in Germany. Newspaper Bild, which broke the news of Mario Gotze’s move from Borussia Dortmund to Bayern Munich, has followed up with a story that will warm the cockles of every Blues fan’s heart – if it proves true.
Radamel Falcao faces fight for place in Chelsea team, says Fernando Torres (Sam Wallace, Independent) Chelsea’s £50m striker Fernando Torres has said that he would stay to fight for his place in the team even if the much sought-after Radamel Falcao was to arrive from Atletico Madrid this summer, increasing the pressure on the Spanish striker… Torres said that he would remain committed to the club even with the likelihood that Chelsea will sign one striker, possibly two, with Falcao and Andre Schürrle of Bayer Leverkusen among those targeted.
Torres Going Purple?
Fiorentina to offer Torres lifeline to replace Premier League-bound Jovetic (Simon Jones, Mail) Fiorentina have expressed interest in signing Fernando Torres from Chelsea… Fiorentina want someone to replace Stevan Jovetic who they anticipate joining either Arsenal or Manchester City.