As soon as everyone was preparing to free the doves of peace and declare this the finest yet, Brazil 2014 took a turn for the curmudgeonly. And it is all Luis Suarez’s fault, writes Paul Radley

Uruguay's Luis Suarez  has courted trouble again. Clive Rose / Getty Images
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The best World Cup? It is already time to revise that theory. As soon as everyone was preparing to free the doves of peace and declare this the finest yet, Brazil 2014 took a turn for the curmudgeonly. And it is all Luis Suarez’s fault.

What was all the hyperbole based on, again? So little has happened on the pitch, and so much off it, since the thrilling opening stanzas, it is difficult to recall what it was that made this one greater than the rest. A couple of Colombian congas, a shock thrashing of the deposed champions Spain and some beautiful people in the stands?

There has to be more to it than that. Has there been a genuine classic yet? One which we will all remember for the rest of our days? One that will get revisited as often as Brazil v Italy in 1970, or Brazil v France in 1982, or Argentina v England in 1986?

Not yet, at least. There are still chapters to be written, of course, but this story has certainly hit a lull.

As soon as the group stages finished, it suddenly became Italy 1990, and not in a good way.

After an admittedly compelling encounter between Brazil and Colombia, there were just two goals spread across the three tepid matches which followed at the quarter-final stage.

Even Brazil 2014 could not escape the truism that the further major tournaments in the modern era progress, the more asphyxiated the play becomes.

It says much about the fact that destroying rather than creating is the way of knockout-stage football that Marc Wilmots, the Belgium manager, took issue with the amount of fouls Lionel Messi made. The world’s best player, reverting to anti-football. Bleak.

The poster boy of the tournament, Neymar, suffered serious injury thanks to a player who seemed intent on malevolent means. And Juan Zuniga’s Colombia team were not even the main offenders in the primal encounter with Neymar’s Brazil.

History will judge the merits only when this World Cup concludes, but it already has a decent claim to being the most anarchic. The headline act, naturally, being the cannibal Suarez.

Three sides from west Africa were more concerned with the bonuses they had yet to receive than how they performed on the field. It is not clear which is more unseemly, anyway, their greed off the field or their mutinies on it.

Fiscal gains should not be the concern at a tournament like this, and at least Algeria and Greece had the right idea. The north African side gave their bonuses to more deserving causes in Gaza, while the Greeks put theirs toward better practise facilities back at home. Good on them.

Arjen Robben admitted to diving. Yet, rather than suffering a punishment appropriate for cheating, he has carried on regardless, continuing to be indulged by referees as we all excuse it. Rafael Marquez was the dopey one making the tackle, was he not?

The pervading contrariness has given birth to a ream of ludicrous excuses, too. Russia were knocked out because their goalkeeper was zapped by a laser beam, according to their coach, Fabio Capello.

Suarez's own mea culpa was the champion, of course: "I tripped and accidentally landed teeth-first into his skin." Classic.

The case of the Uruguayan forward says much about the morality of modern football. The first time he bit someone in a professional game, he earned a lucrative move to the English Premier League.

Now, in a World Cup which was going so well until he sullied it by going Neanderthal, he has already secured a dream move to Barcelona.

While he was off cashing in, the standard of play in the main event has been diminishing. Bah, humbug.