Tactics Bored: Luis Suarez’s rage map

The Rio Report

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The World Cup news has gone massive. There is massive news strewn all over the floor. There’s massive news on the pitch, massive news in press conferences, and massive news in the group tables.

There is massive news soon to be coming from the knockout stages, where triumph is contrasted starkly with failure and disappointment. There’s massive news in the transfer market, with Manchester United actually buying a midfielder, and a left-back, and other clubs gearing up for huge rounds of investment.

Football is massive, football news is therefore massive. But the biggest news is of course the tactical developments. Second-substitutions are having direct effects on the match at a noticeable level, defences switch between three and four men within games, to the benefit of the side doing the switching, and shadow strikers are everywhere. Let’s have a look at that.



He did what?



MASSIVEST NEWS. Luis Suarez bit someone again! Let’s get down into the Emergency Tactics Bunker and get some hot, steaming bite analysis done. Not a second can be wasted.

In Luis Suarez’s defence, his lawyer, team-mates, supporters of club and country and most idiots across the world argued that Suarez had not, actually, bitten Giorgio Chiellini. They said that the photos had been digitally manipulated to put bite marks on Chiellini. Someone even went back to a picture of him celebrating in the past, shirtless, and claimed that the bitemarks had always been there. There were claims that it was a conspiracy between the famous political axis of England, Italy and Brazil, in connivance with FIFA who were angry at losing television viewers as Italy were knocked out of the competition. This, obviously, is in no way a paranoid, delusional and downright wilfully stupid argument embraced only by sad sacks who cannot separate their identity from the club or country they support. Oh no. It has genuine merit.

But in this case, technology has ultimately proved them wrong. Using a similar piece of equipment as they use in cricket to identify if a bat has clipped a ball, or if some other piece of a player or player’s equipment was struck, we can create a bite heatmap. The argument was that Suarez’s head had collided with Chiellini’s shoulder, hurting his eye. However, with detailed, patient use of the heat technology, we can see the point of impact below, demonstrating the bite did in fact take place:

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Suarez, amazingly, has a career record bite completion record of 100%, on the pitch, as far as we know. Off-pitch data is not available, and there may be other instances on the pitch that have evaded detection. What is less known is how the formation of his teeth has evolved as he tried to get more efficient with his biting.

For his first bite, in the Netherlands, he used a rudimentary 4-4-2 formation, deploying just his front two teeth in an attacking formation. This was when he was still quite a raw player (much like the flesh of the players he tried to bite), and so had not moved onto a more tactically astute formation. Against Branislav Ivanovic, Suarez attempted to use two up front, supported by three behind those, as he recreated the 4-1-3-2 that Liverpool were using at the time. Using five attacking prongs had great success, as he was banned for an even longer time for a more egregious, stupid bite.

But he is tactically flexible, and that came when he matched Uruguay’s 4-3-3 formation with his teeth, and chomped six of his front gnashers onto Chiellini. We can only be thankful he is not playing in an era when all 10 players were attacking, or there would have been fatalities.

This has used thousands of pounds of his own money, but you cannot argue he has not got good value from it. Expect a new book on tactics and teeth to be published this year.


Luis Suarez had two goals in three matches, a stunning strike rate that had only been matched or beaten by the very best in the competition. He was gearing up to take Colombia on in the next round, and his side would need that given the dangerous attack Colombia themselves could field. His strike rate was about 66%, but Uruguay’s pass completion stats were down around somewhere that level, a poor return. This meant that they would be at risk of the speedy attacks of Colombia, who had excelled at counterattacking and reacting quickly high up the pitch when they gained possession.

But there is one stat that Uruguay led the way in by the end of the Italy match, and they were well ahead of every other country. For argument’s sake, we’ll include the metric of England, Italy and Brazil, the countries so envious of Uruguay that they possibly created a vile conspiracy.

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You can see above that those three countries were so unsure of their biting ability that they neither attempted nor completed a single bite. Yet Uruguay managed 100%, a stunning success rate. Given they qualified when England and Italy did not, is this a new tactic we will see adopted on a wider basis? Tiki-taka took the world by storm, and other countries and clubs started to imitate it with their own variations. It’s worth keeping an eye on the rest of the competition, and the start of the next season, to see if other players will attempt to match Suarez’s aptitude for trying to eat other people.


This has been used in the past to demonstrate the success of Alan Pardew’s headbutt on David Meyler - it intimidated the opposition well, and he also tried it against Manchester City when he called Manuel Pellegrini an “old c**t”. All this has made Pardew unarguably the greatest English manager around at the moment, and he should really replace Roy Hodgson as soon as possible. But let’s focus on Suarez.

Suarez is one of the best players in the world, and he has an unassailable rage map (though you would imagine Suarez would have a ruddy good go at assailing it, or anything else, if he were given a chance). Tactics Bored has assembled a career rage map, with annotations, to identify all his examples of ill-discipline, to see where he is most effective. Young children should study this and learn from it, should they want to ever be a top-level footballer. Suarez is, obviously, the gift that keeps on giving.

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