Still defending racial incident, seething at bite talk, Suarez returns for Barcelona

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He is Barcelona’s biggest risk, and he steps out on the high wire on Saturday.

Like a brilliant career criminal, Luis Suarez has emerged from prison not with the questions of whether he still has “it”, but whether he can keep himself out of trouble after biting Giorgio Chiellini on the biggest stage in sports (and earning a lengthy ban).

The short memory view of this is coming from Barcelona fans, who will say that they hope his extra-high profile suspension will make him think twice before exhibiting any similar rash behavior.

[ MORE: A complete El Clasico preview ]

The long-term view would be that Suarez is guaranteed to do something stupid again. It won’t necessarily be a bite, or a racial slur, or even a stamping of a prone opponent. But he’ll do something, be suspended and many will act shocked, as if it’s unconscionable the 27-year-old hasn’t changed yet again.

Then there is the view of a friend of mine who happens to be a Liverpool supporter, and will be coming out to watch El Clasico not to see the immense amount of international talent on the pitch, but in order to “boo his every touch.”

My, what a difference a few months can make when it comes to the volatile world of Luis Suarez, who will take to the pitch for the first time in a meaningful game for Barcelona at some point in Saturday’s El Clasico against Real Madrid.

Suarez again courted controversy in an interview with The Guardian this week, leaving after being asked about the Chiellini incident “38,000 times” and expressing a controversial reason as to why his racial abuse of supposedly saying, “Why negro?” to Patrice Evra qualifies as racism.

During the short interview published by The Guardian, Suarez sought again to discredit the Football Association disciplinary commission which gave him an eight-match ban and a £40,000 fine for racially abusing Evra.

The commission found Suarez used the word “negro” (black) to Evra on seven separate occasions, at one point saying to him “I don’t speak to blacks”.

But Suarez insists the FA commission had “no evidence” to support their finding, and that the word “negro” has no offensive connotations in Uruguay.

Yeah, the “I don’t speak to blacks” comment doesn’t seem offensive at all. Perhaps Real Madrid defender Pepe will combine with Suarez for the ultimate two-team double middle finger to the world, but we digress.

[ MORE: Top European clubs prefer Qatar World Cup to be held in May ]

The fact is that Suarez is going to be controversial until the day he leaves this world, and then he may possibly put something in his will just to extend the headlines. His closest comparison would be Diego Maradona, but there was a sense with the Argentine striker that it was all part of a larger than life show. With Suarez, he’s a mercurial man who still somehow seems most interested in his family, not PR.

Real manager Carlo Ancelotti says their defensive plan will not change with Suarez in the lineup, which is like saying, “I’m going out to dinner and ordering really hot peppers but I’m not concerned.” Sure, defending Neymar and Lionel Messi is complicated enough, but you’re going to game plan for them and just hope that one of the most dangerous attackers in the world is able to be held down by ordinary means? Cool story.

Here’s what’s going to happen: Suarez is going to be on his best behavior and his most desperate form, scoring goals for fun for a good period of time. But at some point, whether near or far, he’s going to do something outside the parameters of what we consider good taste and fair play.

It’s going to be ugly and we’re going to shake our heads. Some will feign shock. And the whole cycle will repeat itself again at Barcelona. But this rinse and repeat will fail to clean the dishes.

UCL AT HALF: Marsch’s Salzburg rolling; Champions holding firm; Chelsea’s Mount hurt

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We’ve got news after 45 minutes of six more UCL matches, including a big injury at Stamford Bridge and a monumental start for an American in Austria.

[ UCL: Scores, lineups, stats, box scores ]

Chelsea 0-0 Valencia

No goals to report here, but early season hero Mason Mount has left the match with an injury for the Blues. He was not replaced by Christian Pulisic, rather Pedro.

Liverpool 0-0 Napoli

It’s been a pretty even affair, though Liverpool can thank Adrian for a pair of great saves on Dries Mertens before Hirving “Chucky” Lozano’s goal was ruled offside.

Red Bull Salzburg 5-1 Genk

Jesse Marsch is now officially the first American man to manage a team in a UEFA Champions League game.

The Red Bull Salzburg boss is also the first to hold a second minute lead, as red hot striker Erling Braut Haland scored his 15th, 16th, and 17th goals in nine matches under Marsch.

Haland also five assists on the season, having entered Tuesday’s match with 658 minutes across all competitions.

Haland is the son of former Leeds, Man City, and Nottingham Forest manager Alf-Inge Haland.

Hwang-Hee Chan has Salzburg’s other goal, and two assists.

Elsewhere

Inter Milan 1-1 Slavia Prague — RECAP
Lyon 1-1 Zenit Saint-Petersburg
Borussia Dortmund 0-0 Barcelona
Ajax 1-0 Lille
Benfica 0-0 RB Leipzig

Yedlin nears return, hoping for October USMNT call-up

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Hindsight being 20/20, it’s easy to see that DeAndre Yedlin didn’t look right last season.

The Newcastle United and USMNT right back was not up to his standards during the 2018-19 season, and Yedlin says the injury that’s cost him the start of this season has been the culprit for a long time.

[ MORE: Neymar ban reduced ]

Yedlin, 26, went through surgery this May for a sports hernia which he says bothered him on game days for almost a year and a half.

From NUFC.co.uk:

 “It was tough, and it was a bit confusing because it would come and go. There would be months that I’d be playing with it and I’d take pain killers before the game and try to get through it, then there’d be times when it didn’t bother me at all,” he said.

“Even in warm ups, I’d be thinking ‘it’s going to be tough to make it through this game.’ Once the pain killers hit in, you can’t really feel anything anymore and then adrenalin hits in but, yeah, it’s tough. As a player you don’t want to stop and then lose your place, but you’ve also got to do what’s best for you and for the longevity of your career.

That’s not good, and both USMNT and Newcastle supporters will hope the injury was the reason behind his decline in form.

Yedlin’s stats dropped in each of his last two PL seasons. For a player whose blessed with blazing speed, a sports hernia is only going to dramatically affect performance.

He says he has been in touch with USMNT boss Gregg Berhalter.

“That’s been tough. I’ve had contact with the manager and they’re keeping updated on how I’m doing. This last international break was just a bit too soon but hopefully the next one, I’ll be ready for and hopefully I’ll have some minutes under my belt by that time, then really crack on from there.”

Conte’s Inter avoids UCL upset in stoppage time

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The Champions League nearly began with an upset, as Slavia Prague led Inter Milan 1-0 into stoppage time at the San Siro on Tuesday.

But a pair of Inter loanees produced a play to tie the score in the second minute of stoppage, as Stefano Sensi (Sassuolo) curled a free kick off the bar and Nicolo Barella (Cagliari) first timed the rebound through traffic and inside the far post.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores ]

Peter Olayinka started and finished the play for Slavia Prague’s second half opener. The scorer took the ball to the end line and cut back for Lukas Provod, whose shot was saved by Samir Handanovic.

But Olayinka followed the play and took advantage of the marker who slid to block his initial pass. On the doorstep at the back post, the Nigerian smashed the ball into the top of the goal.

The goal was deserved, and the score line represented the tightness of the contest. Inter barely out shot the Czech visitors and had just a little bit more of the ball.

Romelu Lukaku nearly thumped home a header in the sixth minute of stoppage, but Slavia keeper Ondrej Kolar made a fine save.

Here’s the equalizer:

LIVE, UCL: Napoli v. Liverpool, Chelsea v. Valencia

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The UEFA Champions League group stage is back, as Premier League sides Liverpool and Chelsea are both in action on Tuesday.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores ]

Reigning European champs Liverpool head to Napoli in their opening group game, as Jurgen Klopp‘s men aim to avenge the defeat at the Stadio San Paolo in the group stage last season. As for Chelsea, Frank Lampard and several of his young Blues stars are making their UEFA Champions League debuts as a manager and players.

A beauty of a game takes place in Group F, as Borussia Dortmund host Barcelona with Lionel Messi back in the Barca squad after injury.

Below is the full schedule for Tuesday’s late games, with all games kicking off at 3 p.m. ET.

Click on the link above to follow all of the action live, while we will have you covered with a roundup of the action right here on Pro Soccer Talk.


Tuesday’s UEFA Champions League schedule

Group E
Napoli v. Liverpool
Red Bull Salzburg v. Genk

Group F
Borussia Dortmund v. Barcelona

Group G
Benfica v. Leipzig

Group H
Ajax v. Lille
Chelsea v. Valencia