Every World Cup needs a villain, and Uruguay’s Luis Suárez must have been the pre-tournament bookmakers’ favourite to fill the role. Now he has obliged, for the second World Cup running. In 2010 he did it by saving a last-minute Ghanaian shot with his hands. He was sent off, but Ghana missed the subsequent penalty, and Uruguay went on to the semifinal.
On Tuesday the apparent bite he took out of Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini provided possibly the first iconic moment of this World Cup. Fifa’s disciplinary committee has yet to give its verdict, but the vast majority of global non-Uruguayan opinion seems to believe it was a bite. Jim Boyle, head of Fifa’s refereeing committee, told British TV: “Once again, his actions have left him open to severe criticism.” Once again Suárez’s personal dysfunction is being displayed before the world, and once again he has only his compatriots to defend him. Read more >>
By Simon Kuper in São Paulo
England deserve to go home early. A poor witless team was undone by Luis Suarez, who only a month ago was in hospital having a cartilage operation. After England’s defeat to Italy in Manaus on Saturday, they now have no points from two games. Even a thumping win against little Costa Rica in Belo Horizonte on Tuesday – of which this team do not look capable – would probably not be enough to save them. Read more >>
Spain’s forward Fernando Torres after Spain lost their Group B World Cup football match against Chile Credit: Getty
By now, the FT’s award for worst team of the World Cup is possibly as prestigious as the golden trophy pocketed by the winner. The US won our inaugural prize in 1998, Saudi Arabia in 2002, Serbia in 2006 and France in 2010. All were terrible teams, but none sealed the award just six days into the tournament. That distinction belongs to the FT’s worst team of 2014: Spain.
The Spaniards landed here not merely as world champions but – after two straight European titles – as the most successful national team ever. However, they started with a classic mistake: picking players because they had been world champions before. By that logic England should have sent their 1966 team, while Diego Maradona would be here as Argentina’s playmaker, not as a TV pundit who can’t always even get into the stadium. Read more >>
Italy 2 (Marchisio, Balotelli) England 1 (Sturridge) – Manaus
This was a wonderful performance by both teams, each attacking in their own style – in each case, a style almost unprecedented in their national history.
This Italy want the ball. They have a perfect passing midfield. All the pre-match focus was on Andrea Pirlo, and he justified the hype, but Daniele de Rossi, Claudio Marchisio, Marco Verratti, Thiago Motta and the stunning little Antonio Candreva of Lazio are quite as confident in possession. At times this was Italian “tiki taka”, and their strings of passes were appropriately accompanied by cries of “Ole!” from the Manaus crowd. Read more >>
Brazil 3 (Neymar Jr 29, 71 penalty; Oscar 90)
Croatia 1 (Marcelo own goal 11)
By Simon Kuper in Sâo Paulo
This was the joyous start the World Cup needed. After all the Brazilian anger about wasteful spending, and Fifa’s anger at Brazil’s tardy preparations, this was a surprisingly attacking, open, cheering game.
It was also played in perfect conditions: the stadium looked ready, the weather handily cooled off just before kickoff, and Brazil’s players and crowd got us into the mood by continuing to belt out the national anthem for half a minute after the music had stopped. Read more >>