TURIN, Italy (AP) — Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini has “no problem” with Barcelona forward Luis Suarez and said Monday he will shake hands at the Champions League final when they meet for the first time since the biting incident at the World Cup.
Suarez was banned for four months last year for biting Chiellini on the shoulder during Uruguay’s final group match against Italy.
“Of course I will (shake hands),” Chiellini said. “I’ll hug him happily, too, there’s no problem at all. Those who know me even a bit know that that’s how I truly feel.
“I have no problem with him and I think it’s the same for him. I have to think about him as a player, how he moves, his great skill but nothing more.”
Chiellini’s current teammate, Juventus defender Patrice Evra, didn’t shake Suarez’s hand after he was racially abused by the then-Liverpool forward when playing for Manchester United.
Chiellini might be right to be more worried about Suarez’s skill as a player. Since returning from his ban, the Uruguayan has scored 24 times for Barcelona, and he is only one part of Barcelona’s fearsome attack which, along with Lionel Messi and Neymar, has scored 120 times this season.
Nearly half of those goals have been scored by Messi, who has 58, including an outstanding goal in Barcelona’s Copa del Rey victory over Athletic Bilbao. Messi dribbled past four Bilbao defenders and scored with a goal that was a unique combination of skill, speed and daring.
“It’s a bit more difficult to score goals like that in Italy because we are a bit different defensively and offensively,” Chiellini said. “In Spain, they play better football but defend worse. But Messi is Messi. He scores when he wants. We have to be good in limiting him as much as possible.”
Chiellini also said it was difficult for him to say who is better between Messi, Maradona and Pele.
“You can’t say that. But at the moment, Messi is the god of football,” Chiellini said. “He’s the best in the past 20, 30 years. He’s certainly a class apart in this sport.”
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