Beyond the controversy, Uruguay go on
Once again, Uruguay have done it. The team that knows nothing about easy victories added one more to a heroic list. Against the always mighty Italy, La Celeste proved again that victory for their rivals won't come easy.
Before the match, much was said about key aspects such as Luis Suarez's fitness and Italy's defensive tactics. But not many of us remembered to point out that low-profile defensive pillar, Diego Godin. A man who scored some of the most important goals in Atletico Madrid's successful season, Godin hasn't been a regular scorer for Uruguay. However, when the team most needed him, when time was flying away, when the Catenaccio approach was getting stronger and when the armband was getting tighter, he showed himself. Jumping higher than his rivals, he flicked the ball onto his shoulder and the forces of destiny sent it into the goal.
After spending most of the second half holding up the ball and delaying the game, the Italians had to play with a desperate urgency in the final five minutes, looking for the draw that would keep them in the World Cup. But at this tournament, European nations have had huge trouble against South, Central and North Americans. England, Spain, Portugal, Bosnia, Greece, Croatia and now Italy have all lost points to teams from the Americas. It seems the old theory that Americans win in America and Europeans win in Europe is going to ring true again.
Italy were too greedy in their game plan. They tried a few times to create chances through good passing combinations, but were never close to breaking through Uruguay's strong defensive barrier. Although Andrea Pirlo was not as well covered as Steven Gerrard had been against England, he still couldn't manufacture opportunities for the strikers to score, and Mario Balotelli left the field at half-time after a poor performance.
Uruguay stood firm at the back, resisting the Italian attacks. Young Jose Maria Gimenez showed the strength of a lion and neutralised Balotelli and Ciro Immobile. Juventus midfielder Martin Caceres used his knowledge of Italian football to produce a remarkable display. The three-man midfield stood out once again, with Egidio Arevalo Rios and Alvaro Gonzalez demonstrating superb effort to cover the entire pitch.
Cristian Rodriguez finally turned up at this World Cup, showing what he has done throughout his career by taking advantage of his impressive speed and being a dangerous weapon down the left side. Edinson Cavani acted as an excellent all-rounder again, turning himself to the left flank when Rodriguez was subbed and he wasn't getting hold of the ball.
But despite all this, the football world only speaks about Suarez. As usual, the talented striker makes the headlines, but, sadly, for all the wrong reasons again. We don't know yet what will happen, with the whole of Uruguay anxiously awaiting an official ruling from FIFA.
If Suarez did, as it appears, bite another rival, it shows his temperament has not cooled down. One cannot venture to try to understand why he does it -- but one can analyse how much his teammates will miss him if he gets banned. If he doesn't, all eyes will still be on him again -- just when it seemed criticism had vanished after his fantastic performance against England. Now Uruguay will be on edge, waiting to see how this story continues. Losing Suarez at this crucial stage and before facing such a fine rival as Colombia could be the difference between making the quarterfinals or waving goodbye to hopes of a new Maracanazo for Uruguay.