Tuesday, July 1, 2014

What Luis Suarez's Ban Means for 'Pool

EDITOR'S NOTE: I wrote this before I knew about this whole Barcelona thing. Including some bullshit that Liverpool and Barca had a transfer deal worked out for him last November. Regardless, if shit falls through (like, if he bites Lionel Messi or something) and he doesn't move to Barcelona, then this is still valid. 

Luis Suarez has many nicknames. El Pistolero, or "The Gunman," for his lethal finishing. El Conejo, or "The Rabbit," for his quickness and, presumably, his tremendous chompers.

But now, thanks to those very chiclets, he's lived up to a nickname that my friend and I gave to him senior year: the Terrible Tooth. 

By now, you've heard about the bite, and the fact that this is his third incident where he intentionally put an opponent's flesh into his stupid Uruguayan mouth. The man is a serial biter, which is a fine thing to be, provided that you're horribly uninformed on the spelling of a common breakfast item. 

The sentence doled out by FIFA was swift and harsh - a 9 match ban from playing for his country and, more significantly, a 4 month ban from all football (soccer). 

This is, in a word, disastrous for Liverpool. This is a club that prides itself on trophies. They have won the second-most English league titles (18 to Manchester United's 20) and the third-most Champions League titles (5 - tied with Bayern Munich and trailing AC Milan and Real Madrid). 

Simply put, they are one of the most historic and successful clubs in the world. And Suarez is their best player. 

Shit yeah I am!
Liverpool haven't played in the Champions League (a yearlong tournament to crown the best club team in Europe) since 2009-2010.

There's nothing really like the Champions League in American sports, since it runs concurrently with your team's actual regular season, but the best analogy is the Stanley Cup Playoffs. In both instances, players go their whole careers trying just to get into the tournament. Once you're in, it feels like an entirely new season, as the grind of the playoffs/CL is so long and arduous. But the payoff, winning that championship, is unquestionably the pinnacle of the sport. World Cups and league titles may be nice, but for many soccer players, a Champions League title is the dream.

By virtue of their 2nd-place finish in the English Premier League last year, Liverpool have qualified for the tourney. Suarez was the main reason for this qualification, as he dominated the league to the tune of 31 goals and the MVP Award (called the PFA Player of the Year). 

This 4 month ban will see Suarez return to Merseyside at the end of October, which means he will miss not only the first three months of the English league, but the first three matches of the Champions League group stage. Without their fiery (read: crazy) and talented striker, Liverpool's dreams of returning to glory could be over before they begin. 

It's not all doom and gloom for the Reds, as they have added a few players into the mix who will certainly bring some skills to the table, but that's a post for another day. 


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