23 October 2018   |  Last Updated 23-10-2014 09:29

      Thursday 23, October 2014

      BLOG: 'Out of the biting ban and into the fire'

      ON SATURDAY evening one of football’s most intriguing enigmas will return to work after an enforced sabbatical from the sport that he has so often used as a vehicle to blacken his own reputation.

      Being signed by one of the world’s best and most famous clubs on an astronomical wage is unlikely to prove a deterrent for Luis Suarez adding to a long and murky list of indiscretions but, having served his most recent ban for the biting Giorgio Chiellini during the World Cup, this dubious individual is set to line-up in Spanish football’s most mouth-watering fixture; El Classico.

      I doubt that there is a single football fan in the world that isn’t trembling with excitement at the prospect of a game pitting Messi, Neymar and Suarez against Ronaldo, Bale and Benzema.  The inclusion of Suarez adds a level of intrigue that has been missing in recent years where build-up to games have merely seemed to focus on the irrepressible individual talents of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

      As he did as a player, Luis Enrique is once again thriving at the Nou Camp; having taken over in the summer his side sit top and unbeaten after eight La Liga games and are yet to concede a single goal in the league.  Real Madrid are third but have mustered the most goals in the Spanish league thanks mainly to Ronaldo who has netted exactly half of his side’s 30 so far.

      Having both eased to victory on Champions League duty this week, the first meeting of the two teams this season is likely to mimic the turbo-charged and highly engaging fixtures of bygone years but with an added point of interest.

      Catalonians continue to campaign with increasing vigour to become a separate state, something which does not sit right with many Real Madrid fans and, with a referendum looming, it is highly likely that this particular El Classico will test the credentials of Luis Suarez’ anger management therapist.

      Will a man, so accustomed to yanking on the leash of sanity, be able to keep his emotions in check when the jeers echo around the Bernabeu as the fan’s feud reaches a deafening crescendo on Saturday evening?

      Suarez’ history of on-field crime began as many hope it has ended; with a bite.  Ottman Bakkal of PSV Eindhoven the recipient on that occasion which signalled the beginning, not only of a trilogy of biting incidents, but of a hugely controversial career which has included racist abuse, flying fists, swearing at fans, countless dives and the most deliberate of handballs.

      It is hard for anybody who supports a team for whom Suarez does not play to look past the instances of madness which plague his brilliance but it is equally difficult to ignore that, when Luis Suarez is permitted to do his job, he is exceptionally good at it.  A fact that will serve to embitter Liverpool fans with every goal he scores for Barcelona.

      By Dan Whelan