Champions League Redux: Cris and Motta Red Cards, Late Camp Nou Drama

28 April 2010

Cris’s tackle was a yellow card offense, and his clapping was an immediate second yellow card.
The fifty-ninth minute tackle by Cris on Van Bommel was a stupid one to make. The first rule of thumb people need to realize (see Andy Gray) is this: it does not matter if the tackler gets the ball first. If a player goes in with a high foot in a tackle or completely takes the player out, the referee is well within the laws of the game to produce a yellow card for unsporting behavior.

Yes, one can argue that Van Bommel enticed the challenge with how far he dribbled the ball up field. The only problem with that argument is that it’s 100 percent flawed. Cris knew full well what he wanted to do in that challenge, and that was to take the Bayern Munich player out of the play. Because he was so far out when he went into the tackle, there was no way of controlling himself. When you make contact with the player in the manner that Cris did, from the side with a high foot and studs showing, the referee should be showing a yellow card regardless if the boot makes contact with the player or not.

The second yellow card I applaud the referee showing. I can’t stand blatant dissent from referees and the laws of the game agree with that stance. Any time you openly clap something the referee does in his sightline, the referee does not have to give a warning about your behavior (again, see Andy Gray). He is going to flash a yellow card for dissent. In the funny world of football math, one yellow plus one yellow equals one red. Massimo Busacca handled this situation perfectly despite what some color commentators (this is a recording: Andy Gray) would say.

I hate having to do this, but Andy Gray needs to be seriously taken to task over his comments about this situation. His comments sounded like a man who hasn’t read the laws of the game in his entire life. Maybe people need to mail Fox Soccer Channel’s studios with a copy of the laws of the game to hand to the Sky Sports man during the World Cup. Referees don’t have to give players warnings about their conduct. Yes it’s nice to do when one is teetering on the edge, but it is not required. Any time you clap the referee in his sight, he is going to show a yellow card without warning. Instead, Andy Gray should have been openly taking Cris to task for costing his team the tie. They were finally starting to build some pressure on Bayern Munich before he stupidly got himself sent off.

While Sergi Busquets actions were appalling, Thiago Motta was going to be sent off.
Thiago Motta had one awful night at the Camp Nou that saw his day end inside half an hour. While the actions that saw him sent off were worthy of an Oscar, Thiago Motta was going to be sent off one way or another for his hand to the face of Sergi Busquets.

Let’s start with Motta’s tenth minute booking after fouling Daniel Alves. He was late, and got him from behind. While that was worthy of a yellow card alone, Frank De Bleeckere had already blown two foul calls on Motta. He was already treading on thin ice before the incident in question happened.

Then the twenty-seventh minute incident that people are talking about. Off a free kick, Motta put his hand up when going for a fifty-fifty ball. Busquets went down like he was shot. While it does not matter how small the contact was, the fact of the matter is contact was made.

Any time there is a hand making contact to the face of any player, it really is up to the referee’s as to what card is shown. The general rule is if the contact is on chin and under it’s a yellow card; above the chin and it’s red. From my vantage point, this was only a yellow card offense and the referee was wrong for showing a straight red. However, knowing Motta was on a yellow card already, this would have been his second bookable offense.

Yes, Busquets was pathetic in his actions immediately after the hand to the face, but Motta was even stupider for putting his hands to the back of the man’s neck after he was sent off. Hopefully, UEFA will justly punish Motta for his actions once he was sent off.

A close look at the decisions in the final 10 minutes at the Camp Nou
To me, there is no doubt about the goal: Muntari kept Pique onside. Granted, based on the camera angles provided on replay, it would have taken a geometry wizard to determine the line, but from my naked eye the goal was correctly given.

You didn’t think I wasn’t going to talk about the decision made by the referee at exactly 91:00 of the game, did you? To refresh your memory on the sequence, Pique tries to play the ball into the box. During the process, Walter Samuel played the ball and it deflected off Yaya Toure. The ball ended up right in the path of Bojan, who finished the ball into the back of the net. The referee blew for handball, and was one-hundred percent correct in calling for the free kick.

The issue here is the advantage the hand gave the ball. Even when it plays ball to hand, it is considered intentional anytime the ball ends up in an advantageous position for the attack. If you notice, the referee didn’t blow the whistle until Bojan played the ball. Had Inter cleared the ball, nothing would have been called.

Yes, the decision is as ticky-tacky as a decision gets, but it’s the correct decision nonetheless. It maybe tough for Barcelona to go out in this manner, but it’s really their own fault. They only threatened Cesar three times over the ninety minutes, once resulting in a goal. The other two times were from distance that Cesar was able to judge and make saves on. Had Barcelona played with more urgency and tried to come up with another angle of attack when up a man, they aren’t relying on the referee getting a decision wrong late to advance to the Champions League final.


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Johnathan Starling, the self proclaimed 'most brutally honest man on the net, dishes out his own unique brand of opinions, and analysis on the Premier League, Bundesliga, and all things US Soccer.

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