Champions League Redux: Refereeing Decisions, Alves, Robben

21 April 2010

1) Both Samuel Eto’o and Sergio Busquets deserved to be booked for their dissent towards the referee.
While I can understand the players frustration about the calls that were made in these instances, that is no excuse for showing any blatant form of protest. Yes, Eto’o, while it looked like it was a 50-50 ball, you were coming in from behind trying to take your man completely out of the play. In Busquets case, he was the man who was fouled and didn’t even bother taking the extra second to look and see which way the foul was going. In the heat of a Champions League semi-final, one thing all players have to have is the ability to let the little things go. If you show your frustration by kicking (or in Busquets case, punching) the ball away, the referee is going to have no sympathy when he shows the yellow card. My only wish is that we saw this more often so that players got the memo on it quicker.

2) Inter Milan’s third goal was never a doubt: it was onside.
Having seen the debate on just about every website I frequent with regards to the goal that put Inter Milan 3-1 up against Barcelona, I paid extra attention to it. Having looked at the sequence that started with Eto’o cross in to Sneijder, everything was perfectly fine. The header from Sneijder to Milito, though, is where the debate has every right to begin. It wasn’t until the third replay was shown where it became clear if there was any debate to be had. In my mind, that answer is no.

When you look at that particular replay closely, Gerald Pique was the last defender. When the ball leaves Sneijder’s head towards Milito, he is level with the last defender. That’s all that is required to be onside and for the goal to be legit. What Pique and Alves should be asking themselves is why they didn’t do a better job defending the play, instead of asking about an offside flag that should have never went up to begin with. Fair play to the linesman for getting that call spot on.

3) Daniel Alves should not have been booked for diving. It should have been a penalty.
The only call the Barcelona faithful have any right to be upset about was the decision against Alves in the eighty-third minute. When Wesley Sneijder went in from behind on Alves and made contact, the referee should have pointed to the spot.

From the angle the referee was looking at, he was not in the best position to make the call. At that point, the linesman should have waved for the foul. The contact made was clear and decisive. The tackle was late, and should have been a yellow card for unsporting behavior. At that critical point in the match, with Barcelona piling on the pressure, the referees should have got the decision right. Now with Alves missing the next match because of a refereeing error, it’s something that will be hard for the current Champions League holders to take.

4) Both Franck Ribery and Jeremy Toulalan deserved to be sent off.
Ribery’s red card was as obvious as a red card can get. His intentional stomp onto Lisandro Lopez was reckless, was with an intent to injure, and was high. At any level of football, that is an automatic red card. At the highest level of football, the red card will be shown as fast as it was in this match, if not quicker.

Jeremy Toulalan’s first yellow card was just stupid. With the man advantage, you have to trust your defense to pick up Robben in that instance. To cause that impediment and end up in the book is just inexcusable. If the first yellow was a bad one to give, the second one was just stupid. Yes, Schweinsteiger and Toulalan were going for the same ball in the same manner, but when you don’t get the ball, you better not get the player. In that instance, he did, and the referee had no choice within the law but to send him off.

Games like Wednesday’s first leg between Bayern Munich and Lyon are what make me continue to preach on the virtues of ‘letter of the law’. In major competitions, you’re expected to abide by it. Not doing so should lead to severe consequences. When we get to the World Cup, expect more of this type of officiating. This is suppose to be the standard, not the exception.

5) While Arjen Robben’s strike resulted in a brilliant goal, he should not be getting credit for it.
Arjen Robben just can’t help himself these days. After scoring the two goals that advanced Bayern Munich to this stage in the competition, his effort Wednesday should not have been a surprise.

After beating Delgado and seeing that no one from Lyon was going to pressure him from 35 yards, he struck. The ball looked to be a comfortable one for Hugo Lloris, but fate intervened…or in this instance, the head of Thomas Muller. The contact made with Muller’s head took just enough of a deflection to prevent the save and put the ball into the back of the net.

On the whole, it was just poor defending from Lyon. However, Arjen Robben should not be getting credit for that goal. If he was wise, he would give his goal bonus to the real man who was responsible for scoring at the Allianz Arena.


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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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