Giorgio Chiellini has revealed he was quick to forgive Luis Suarez after the striker bit him because he sees a lot of himself in the Uruguay striker.

The incident occurred in a group game at the 2014 World Cup, with Suarez stunning a worldwide television audience by committing the third biting offence of his career.

But Chiellini, despite calling for action to be taken at the time, was sympathetic towards Suarez when FIFA imposed a four-month ban on the then Liverpool player.

And now the Juventus and Italy captain has disclosed why he feels a kinship with Suarez.

Chiellini wrote in a new autobiography, quoted by La Gazzetta dello Sport: "Nothing strange happened that day. I had marked [Edinson] Cavani for most of the game, another attacker who was difficult to handle, then suddenly I noticed that Suarez had bitten my shoulder.

"It happened, and this is his way of dealing with direct confrontations, and, if I can say it, it is also mine: he and I are alike and I like to face challenges in this way. I admire his malice, if he lost it he would become a normal striker."

Chiellini said he and Suarez spoke days after their June 2014 clash, which came in a game Uruguay won to advance beyond the group stage at the expense of Italy.

"After a couple of days we spoke again on the phone and there was no need to apologise," Chiellini said.

"I am a great son of a b**** on the pitch as well and I am proud of it: malice is part of football, I don't even call it impropriety. You have to be smart and I have always admired Suarez."

Suarez has gone on to join Barcelona and become a mainstay with the Camp Nou giants, putting the biting controversies behind him, after previous offences while at Ajax and Liverpool.

Luis Suarez was plotting to leave Barcelona for a return to his first club Nacional when it appeared Sebastian Abreu had a chance of becoming coach, the former Uruguay international claims.

Nacional were without a coach late last year when Alvaro Gutierrez quit, with Abreu – who spent three spells there as a player – adamant he was a leading candidate to get the job.

At that time he conversed with Suarez, who apparently suggested returning to Uruguay was a real possibility despite being among the highest-paid players in Spain and contracted to Barcelona until 2021.

Abreu was a team-mate of Suarez's in the national team between 2007 and 2012, with both a part of the selection that helped Uruguay to a fourth-placed finish at the 2010 World Cup, and the Barca striker had seemingly expressed a desire to link up with 'El Loco' once again.

"I had full, real chances [of being Nacional coach]," he told Uruguayan radio station Sport 890.

"And when in those days, after December 18, Luis was about to come, I said to him: 'Look, Lucho, it is not anything concrete, but there may be a possibility … What's your situation? What do we do?'

"[Abreu claims Suarez replied:] 'If you get to be [coach], let me talk to Sofi, talk about the family. I always told you that if you were a coach I could come back.'"

He added: "Going back to Nacional was something that motivated Luis, it was a nice challenge."

Former goalkeeper Gustavo Munua, also once an international colleague of Abreu, got the job.

Abreu remains player-coach at Boston River, while Suarez looks set to at least see out the remainder of his contract at Camp Nou.

Squads for the upcoming Copa America could look vastly different by the time the tournament comes around following its postponement.

The latest edition of the competition was scheduled to start in June, but the coronavirus pandemic has seen it pushed back 12 months.

Some veteran players might now fade from the picture before the Copa America gets under way next year, while other stars will have time to recover from injury.

There could also be some new faces on the scene, with a host of uncapped prospects given an extra campaign to break through.

We take a look at five players who might emerge between now and the tournament.

 

GABRIEL MARTINELLI (BRAZIL)

Even beyond Neymar, Roberto Firmino, Gabriel Jesus and co., Brazil have a wealth of attacking talent.

Matheus Cunha and Paulinho each starred at this year's CONMEBOL Pre-Olympic Tournament and are already plying their trade in the Bundesliga, yet the nation's most outstanding prospect might reside in London.

Gabriel Martinelli is eligible for both Brazil and Italy, but the Selecao will surely move swiftly to cap-tie the striker.

Martinelli trained with Brazil last year aged 17 after starring for Ituano, and he has continued to impress in his first season at Arsenal, scoring 10 goals in all competitions.

Further progress in the coming season would give Tite something to think about.

 

CRISTIAN ROMERO (ARGENTINA)

Argentina have long had problems at centre-back, with Manchester City defender Nicolas Otamendi still a regular at international level.

However, head coach Lionel Scaloni could soon have greater options to choose from, with younger talents now breaking through.

Nehuen Perez might well have gone to the 2020 Copa America, having been called up for the first time late last year after promising loan spells away from Atletico Madrid, but he could soon find himself nudged back down the pecking order.

Cristian Romero appears well-placed to establish himself, having earned a €26million move from Genoa to Juventus at the start of the season, although he returned on loan to his former club, who are enduring a testing campaign.

With Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci ageing, Romero should get opportunities with Juve next term - and Argentina could soon come calling.

 

DIEGO ROSSI (URUGUAY)

Uruguay continue to rely on a number of their veterans of previous tournaments, but this will have to change in the coming months and years - especially in attack.

Luis Suarez faced a race to be fit for the 2020 edition, while Edinson Cavani's club future is in doubt as his Paris Saint-Germain contract expires. Even Cristhian Stuani is now playing in Spain's second tier. All three are 33 years old.

And Diego Rossi should back himself to be in position to put pressure on that star trio in 12 months' time.

Rossi left Penarol for Los Angeles FC aged 19 and has proven an instant hit in MLS, scoring 29 goals in 68 regular-season appearances, helping his club win the 2019 Supporters' Shield.

LAFC general manager John Thorrington has spoken of "significant interest" in Rossi from Europe, and such a move would give the forward a great chance of making the grade for Uruguay.

 

JORGE CARRASCAL (COLOMBIA)

Rossi's LAFC team-mates Eddie Segura and Eduard Atuesta both appear set for first Colombia caps, but Jorge Carrascal might now have nudged to the front of that queue.

A tricky winger who debuted for Millonarios at just 16, Carrascal initially struggled after joining River Plate on loan from Ukraine's Karpaty Lviv last year.

However, Carrascal improved as the season went on, earning a permanent switch to River - and, crucially, a call-up to the Colombia Under-23s.

Representing his country at youth level for the first time since 2015, the 21-year-old scored in each of his first three games at the Pre-Olympic Tournament and started all seven matches.

A return to the River Plate XI this year could see Carrascal earn a senior Colombia call-up.


REINIER (BRAZIL)

It might seem a long shot for a player who has yet to feature for Real Madrid's first team and started only twice at the Pre-Olympic Tournament to be playing for Brazil's senior side in just over a year's time.

But Reinier will have the benefit of 12 months in the limelight at one of the world's biggest clubs.

After signing from Flamengo for €30m, Reinier netted a brace in just his third Castilla appearance - his final match before the coronavirus crisis intervened.

The pre-season will be key if the 18-year-old is to get a chance at Madrid in 2020-21, and there is no reason why he could not then do enough to catch Tite's eye.

Vinicius Junior made a big-money move from Flamengo to Madrid in 2018 and had debuted for Brazil within 12 months of his LaLiga bow. The path is clear.

CONMEBOL has asked FIFA to postpone the start of its 2022 World Cup qualifying, scheduled for this month, due to coronavirus fears.

In a letter sent to FIFA on Wednesday, CONMEBOL asked for its opening qualifiers, scheduled for March 26, 27 and 31, to be postponed.

COVID-19 has killed more than 4,600 people worldwide while affecting more than 126,000.

CONMEBOL cited the possibility of players not being able to travel from Europe due to coronavirus as a reason for its request.

"The member countries of CONMEBOL – Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela have requested the CONMEBOL to submit to FIFA's consideration the request to postpone the start of the qualifiers for the Qatar 2022 World Cup," the statement read in part.

Lionel Messi's Argentina are due to begin their qualifying campaign against Ecuador in Buenos Aires, while Brazil are scheduled to face Bolivia in Recife.

The other matchday one games are Paraguay-Peru, Uruguay-Chile and Colombia-Venezuela.

Argentina will open the 2020 Copa America with a blockbuster clash against Chile in Buenos Aires.

In a rematch of this year's third-place play-off, which Argentina won as Lionel Messi and Gary Medel were sent off, the teams will meet again at the El Monumental on June 12 next year.

While the draw took place on Tuesday, the nations already knew almost all of their opponents with teams split into zones for next year's tournament in Argentina and Colombia.

However, Australia – playing at their first Copa America – were drawn into Group A, which features Argentina, Bolivia, Uruguay, Chile and Paraguay.

Qatar, the other invited nation, will meet Colombia, Brazil, Venezuela, Ecuador and Peru.

Brazil will go into the tournament as defending champions after their success at home this year.

The top four teams in each group will advance to the quarter-finals.

Group A: Argentina, Australia, Bolivia, Uruguay, Chile, Paraguay.
Group B: Colombia, Brazil, Qatar, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru.

Lionel Scaloni is satisfied with Argentina's progress after a friendly draw against Uruguay on Monday.

Argentina came from behind twice to secure a 2-2 draw in Tel Aviv, where Lionel Messi's stoppage-time penalty cancelled out Luis Suarez's goal after Edinson Cavani and Sergio Aguero had struck earlier.

It extended Argentina's unbeaten run to seven matches as they continued preparations for 2022 World Cup qualifying, which begins next year.

Scaloni is pleased with Argentina's development, although the coach still sees room for improvement.

"At the level of results, we are fine. At the level of the game, it can be improved," he said, via Ole.

"The team feeling is the best we have. The important thing is that the players who play do it well. Some make a difference and others support."

Scaloni acknowledged the challenge awaiting his team, describing the CONMEBOL qualifiers as the toughest in the world.

"Now we have to think about what we did well and what we can correct. What is coming is difficult," he said.

"I spoke with people from Uruguay. It will be difficult in the qualifiers. Those in South America are the most difficult in the world.

"We have a good base."

Lionel Messi scored a stoppage-time penalty to secure Argentina an entertaining 2-2 draw with Uruguay in Tel Aviv on Monday.

Argentina fell behind when Edinson Cavani, who scored in Uruguay's 2-1 win over Hungary on Friday, notched his 50th international goal in the 34th minute.

That lead was cancelled out when Sergio Aguero headed home a set-piece delivery from Messi, before Luis Suarez restored La Celeste's advantage five minutes later with a superb free-kick.

Messi missed a penalty and scored on the rebound in a 1-0 win over Brazil three days ago, but he made no mistake from the spot on this occasion and clinched the draw in the 92nd minute.

Edinson Cavani and Brian Rodriguez were on target as Uruguay ran out 2-1 winners against a Hungary side celebrating the opening of the new Puskas Arena.

The 68,000-seat state-funded stadium hosted its first match in front of a packed-out crowd in Budapest.

Those in attendance were treated to a barnstorming opening to the friendly as all three goals arrived inside 25 minutes, with Cavani and Rodriguez putting the visitors in command.

Adam Szalai scored the first Hungary goal at the ground to halve the deficit but it was a lead they were unable to turn around.

Uruguay were ahead after 15 minutes when Matias Vina's excellent left-wing centre was turned in at the far post by Cavani.

Luis Suarez then teed up Rodriguez, who jinked inside on the left of the box and bent a sublime effort into the far corner.

Hungary reduced the arrears when Szalai coolly slotted home Roland Varga's cut-back with his left foot.

Substitute Maxi Gomez had the opportunity to restore the two-goal cushion when slipped in by Cavani in the 64th minute, only for Botond Barath to make a superb recovery block.

Cristhian Stuani almost bundled his way through in the closing stages, but Denes Dibusz stood up well to his close-range effort.

Luis Suarez welcomed Barcelona's search for a new striker despite the threat it could bring to his starting spot.

LaLiga leaders Barca have been linked to Lautaro Martinez, Erling Haaland and Carlos Vela as they seek to strengthen Ernesto Valverde's attacking options.

The club failed to bring Neymar back from Paris Saint-Germain during the close season, leaving the squad light on competition for natural centre-forward Suarez.

The 32-year-old has scored six goals in eight LaLiga starts this season but knows he will not always be able to perform at the highest level.

"There will come a time when my age will not allow me to live up to what Barcelona needs to compete," Suarez told Uruguayan publication Ovacion.

"But as long as I can, as long as I have the strength, giving me competition is much better.

"That they are looking for or want to bring another number nine is nothing strange, it is the reality of football.

"It will be better for me and better for the club, because it will feed competition, and it will be better for the future because the club can prepare a player with the help of all the great players at Barcelona."

Suarez joined Barca from Liverpool in 2014 and is now in his sixth season at Camp Nou.

The former Ajax forward plans to continue his career until at least the 2022 World Cup, which would be his fourth appearance at the tournament.

"I hope so," he said. "I am really convinced of that, yes."

Suarez is part of the Uruguay squad for the upcoming international friendlies against Hungary (November 15) and Argentina (November 18), his first involvement with the national team since the Copa America in June.

Argentina pair Marcos Rojo and Roberto Pereyra have been ruled out of the country's international friendlies against Brazil and Uruguay.

As Lionel Messi prepares to make his comeback following a three-month suspension, Argentina defender Rojo and midfielder Pereyra have withdrawn from Lionel Scaloni's squad.

Rojo was ruled out following Manchester United's 3-1 Premier League win over Brighton and Hove Albion on Sunday in which he appeared at Old Trafford, while Watford's Pereyra succumbed to a hamstring injury.

Argentina have drafted in Boca Juniors' Alexis Mac Allister for Friday's showdown with South American rivals Brazil in Saudi Arabia and the November 18 fixture against Uruguay in Tel Aviv.

Messi is back in the squad after the Barcelona and Argentina captain was banned by CONMEBOL in August and fined $50,000 for accusing the governing body of corruption following his side's semi-final loss to Brazil at the Copa America.

The 32-year-old has missed Argentina's past four matches – all friendlies – which has seen the country rout Ecuador (6-1) and Mexico (4-0), and draw with Chile (0-0) and Germany (2-2).

Luis Suarez is back for Uruguay for his nation's friendlies against Hungary and Argentina this month.

The Barcelona star last featured for his country at the Copa America earlier this year, but is set for a return after being named in a 22-man squad on Friday.

Suarez missed Uruguay's matches against Peru last month, instead staying in Barcelona to undergo medical treatment.

The 32-year-old has found form for his club, moving onto eight goals in 12 games in all competitions this season.

Paris Saint-Germain forward Edinson Cavani, Real Madrid midfielder Federico Valverde and Inter pair Diego Godin and Matias Vecino are also part of the squad.

Uruguay face Hungary in Budapest on Friday before taking on Argentina in Israel three days later.

Uruguay: Martin Campana (Independiente), Fernando Muslera (Galatasaray); Sebastian Coates (Sporting CP), Diego Godin (Inter), Giovanni Gonzalez (Penarol), Diego Laxalt (Torino), Bruno Mendez (Corinthians), Gaston Silva (Independiente), Mathias Suarez (Montpellier), Matias Vina (Nacional); Rodrigo Bentancur (Juventus), Brian Lozano (Santos Laguna), Nahitan Nandez (Cagliari), Lucas Torreira (Arsenal), Federico Valverde (Real Madrid), Matias Vecino (Inter); Edinson Cavani (PSG), Maxi Gomez (Valencia), Brian Rodriguez (Los Angeles FC), Jonathan Rodriguez (Cruz Azul), Cristhian Stuani (Girona), Luis Suarez (Barcelona).

Barcelona forward Lionel Messi is back in Argentina's squad for next month's friendlies against Brazil and Uruguay after serving a three-month suspension.

Messi was banned by CONMEBOL in August and fined $50,000 for accusing the governing body of corruption following his side's semi-final loss to Brazil at the Copa America.

The 32-year-old has missed Argentina's past four matches - all friendlies - but is in line to make his return in November after being named in Lionel Scaloni's latest 26-man squad.

Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero is also included for the first time since Argentina's 2-1 third-place play-off victory over Chile in the Copa America, while Tottenham midfielder Giovani Lo Celso returns after sitting out of this month's draw with Germany and victory over Ecuador.

There is still no place in the squad for Paris Saint-Germain's in-form striker Mauro Icardi, however, with his most recent cap coming against Mexico in November 2018.

Club team-mate Angel Di Maria, absent since the Copa America, is also missing again.

Argentina meet Brazil in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on November 15 and then travel to Tel Aviv, Israel, to face Uruguay three days later in the final international break of the calendar year.
 

Argentina squad in full:

Agustin Marchesin (Porto), Emiliano Martinez (Arsenal), Esteban Andrada (Boca Juniors), Juan Musso (Udinese); German Pezzella (Fiorentina), Juan Foyth (Tottenham), Marcos Rojo (Manchester United), Nehuen Perez (Famalicao), Nicolas Otamendi (Manchester City), Nicolas Tagliafico (Ajax), Renzo Saravia (Porto), Walter Kannemann (Gremio); Giovani Lo Celso (Tottenham), Guido Rodriguez (Club America), Leandro Paredes (Paris Saint-Germain), Lucas Ocampos (Sevilla), Marcos Acuna (Sporting CP), Nicolas Dominguez (Velez Sarsfield), Roberto Pereyra (Watford), Rodrigo de Paul (Udinese); Lautaro Martinez (Inter), Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Lucas Alario (Bayer Leverkusen), Nicolas Gonzalez (Stuttgart), Paulo Dybala (Juventus), Sergio Aguero (Manchester City).

Darwin Nunez came off the bench to rescue a late 1-1 draw for Uruguay against Peru in their international friendly in Lima.

Christofer Gonzales' header gave Peru a 34th-minute lead after Uruguay were reduced to 10-men when Martin Caceres was sent off on Tuesday.

But Nunez headed in Matias Vina's cross against the run of play to earn La Celeste an unlikely draw after victory over the same opposition four days ago at Estadio Centenario in Montevideo.

Tuesday's match came to life in the 26th minute after a scrappy opening, when experienced defender Caceres was shown a red card for two cautions within a minute.

The former Barcelona and Juventus defender was booked for his initial challenge on Miguel Trauco before receiving a second yellow for his protests to Colombian referee Carlos Herrera.

Uruguay head coach Oscar Tabarez reacted by introducing Giovanni Gonzalez for Maxi Gomez, the visitors conceded moments later when Peru had their first notable chance of the game.

Luis Advincula beat his marker down the right and whipped in a teasing cross for Gonzalez to head home unmarked.

Peru had defeated Uruguay 5-4 on penalties in June's Copa America fixture en route to a final defeat by Brazil and they continued to look comfortable, as La Celeste lacked the sharpness shown in Friday's 1-0 win.

But two substitutes linked up for La Celeste as Vina's cross found Nunez, who had only been on the pitch for five minutes, to head in and have the final say for the visitors.

Georgia coach Milton Haig believes he did not put too much pressure on his side by claiming their Rugby World Cup clash with Uruguay was a must-win.

Uruguay were flying high after stunning Fiji, but Georgia came out on top 33-7 in Pool D, claiming their first win of the tournament.

Haig had stated his belief that Georgia, who were defeated by Wales in their opening match, had to triumph against the South Americans if they stood any chance of progressing from a pool which also includes Australia.

The coach, who will leave his post at the end of Georgia's World Cup campaign, acknowledged his comments may have backfired, but was delighted with the reaction of his players.

"It was just stating facts really, we were at a tipping point," Haig told a news conference.

"Obviously if you lose this match everything we'd worked at for so long would have gone down the tubes. Obviously that put pressure on the players, I'm pretty sure it did but that was the reaction I wanted.

"When you're under pressure you either use it as motivation or use it as a hindrance so I wanted to see how the boys would respond and I think they responded pretty well today.

"We're still a work in progress, no doubt about that but after my eight years, I finish at the end of this World Cup, as long as I know I can walk away knowing I've given my all and made my players better then I'll be happy."

Georgia's players were left frustrated after full-time, however, when a Russian song was played in celebration of their victory, with captain Jabba Bregvadze telling reporters: "I want to take this moment to ask the person who played the Russian music, next time don't make the mistake again, please."

Haig added: "They were playing a song after the match that was a Russian song, sung by a Georgian singer but it is a Russian song.

"Again, we want to make it clear that Russia is not Georgia, Georgia is not Russia. We have a different language, different culture, different everything, so World Rugby, please make sure you get these sort of things ironed out for us."

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