¡Sanfrecce Olé!


Chelsea, Barcelona, and Tom Henning Ovrebo

Posted by stefanole on 2009/05/08

So, after reading the controversy surrounding the Chelsea vs Barcelona game, I thought I’d take a look for myself. Some thoughts:

24′, free kick to Malouda just outside the Barca penalty area: actually it looked like this was just inside the penalty area. I had the distinct displeasure of watching a cap of this game commentated on by Andy Gray, who frankly doesn’t know his offside arse from his handball elbow and is a disgrace to his profession. FIFA state that if a foul or unfair contact begins outside of the area and continues into the area, that the greater of the two offenses should be penalised (this is merely a clarification of Law 5 I believe, but there are a lot of stupid people out there who need these things spelt out, but who in the case of Mr Gray still don’t listen). Anyway the point is that if a foul continues into the penalty area then the referee should give a penalty. However, it seems to me that the offence in this case is Impeding, which is actually an indirect free kick anyway (i.e. no penalty), so really this is a wash. (I say impeding, Ovrebo may say charging or holding, the lines are pretty blurred here.)

26′, Drogba goes down under pressure from Abidal. My first reaction was that Drogba dived. I’m sure you’ll forgive me for this: Drogba falls over in the penalty area a lot. My next reaction was that there was contact with Abidal’s leg which caused Drogba to go down, so possibly a penalty (I’m ignoring the shirt pulling, that on its own was not sufficient to give a free kick anywhere on the pitch and a penalty for that would be ridiculous). On watching the video a couple more times I went back to thinking that Drogba went down too easily. He carries on for a couple of steps before falling down as he sees the goalie come to collect. In my opinion Abidal does a very professional job of putting Drogba off his game without actually fouling him. Football is not a non-contact sport. (And before anyone suspects that I’m just mindlessly defending the referee, I voiced a similar opinion of the incident in the Frontale game when Mihael Mikić went down in the area – the defender deliberately knocked Mikić off his stride, but cleverly enough that the contact was too light to award a penalty. I still think a (second) yellow for Mikić for diving was completely retarded though. You hear me, Yoshida Toshimitsu??)

30′, yellow card for Dani Alves: totally justified. This idiot didn’t heed at least one warning after barging through Malouda only minutes earlier and continued to be overly-aggressive despite being one booking away from missing the final. It seems that some players area careful enough to avoid this sort of tragedy, and some like Alves think that the referee will not dare book them and as such have a free pass to commit all sorts of idiocy. Fortunately Ovrebo was strong enough to put his foot down and send a message that his retardedness wouldn’t be tolerated. Incidentally Andy Gray totally missed the point in bemoaning the booking for fouling a player in the air (when it was clear to me at least that he was being booked for Persistent Infringement – he must have averaged at least one foul every 10 minutes, which clearly is not acceptable). Should we tolerate players’ indicipline just because they are “the best in the world”, as Gray put it? Clearly, the answer is no. Shut up and go and play in the corner, Andy.

32′, Lampard injured: Dani Alves uses the opportunity to gesticulate wildly in the referee’s face, who brushes him off. Srsly, Alves, srsly.

34′, Barcelona restart without waiting for the whistle. Referee pulls it back and tells players to wait for the whistle. Now it will seem picky to fans and players, but I accept that it’s important for players to respect the restart of play like this. I remember being told off one time for allowing players to kick off a half without having blown just because I didn’t want to have to drag the play back, but really the players have to respect that the man in the middle dictates the stoppages and not them.

43′, did he just say Anelka? I honestly didn’t realise he was even on the pitch 😡

45’+3, half time. Barcelona complain that they aren’t allowed to take a corner, but really the ball is out of play and the three minutes of extra time have been played. What more do you want?

48′, is that Anelka again? I guess I wasn’t hearing things earlier.

51′, I think I own the same tie that the suave Barcelona manager is wearing

52′, Drogba is one-on-one and has his shot saved by the keeper. That’ll probably come back to haunt him.

55′, the commentators Rob Hawthorne and Andy Gray assure us that they are qualified by regurgitating some random useless trivia. Really, you’d get more entertainment out of the Guinness Book of Records (and I hear that they actually check their facts, which would be a welcome improvement).

56′, Drogba vs Touré: Drogba actually handballs here as the ball bounces up. Ignoring that, both Drogba and Touré are laying on hands and the physical contact is mutual. And as Gray correctly points out (wtf?), Touré successfully pokes the ball away from Drogba. Of course there’s no telling Drogba that.

61′, Barcelona have consistently enjoyed around two thirds of the possession. Really, how are they not ahead by a similar goal margin?

62′, Drogba goes down in the Barca penalty area, again. Reminds me of the old Virtua Cop shooter, with its early example of ragdoll physics. When you shot the bad guys in the shoulder, they did something similar to how Drogba went down, although in the game they didn’t get up again and then verbally abuse you.

65′, Anelka goes down in front of Abidal while potentially through on goal. This looks a lot like dive, there is no contact as far as I can see and there is the tell-tale little kick out that Anelka does with one leg before going down. A red card for Abidal seems harsh also. Anelka didn’t have the ball under control, in fact he hasn’t touched the ball, so to describe this an obvious goalscoring opportunity is probably stretching things. Lampard totally fails at the free kick so there is no immediate reprisal. At this point the decisions and the score are in Chelsea’s favour.

72′, Drogba substituted. Maybe Hiddink sees the stroppiness and childishness as clearly as everyone else?

73′, Essien targets Iniesta with a set on studs on his calf. The uglier side of Essien’s game for sure. He is rightly yellow carded.

77′, Anelka goes down in the penalty area under pressure from Touré. Looks like another dive, to be honest. Anelka ran the ball too far and fell over when he realised he couldn’t take it under control.

81′: “Ahahahahaha. Well it is a handball. It hits the hand. There’s absolutely no doubt about it.” Holy freaking hell, is Andy Gray’s grasp of the Laws this tenuous? Just for you, Andy: The Laws describe DELIBERATE handball. From corshamref.org:

“Deliberate handball means that a player intentionally moves his hand or arm towards the ball, and could have avoided touching the ball, but decided not to.”

Now, the ball hits Piqué’s hand after it’s been kicked at him by Anelka who is literally next to him. That is a split-second where Piqué can decide to move his hand (his hand is in the same position as it was before the ball was kicked). It may not even be possible for the human mind to make a decision in the time that was available to Piqué about whether the ball was going to hit his hand and whether he should move it out of the way or not. The average reaction time for an adult is about two tenths of a second. Did Piqué have this long? I’m not sure, so there is no way that a referee can sanction a penalty for deliberate handball. (That didn’t stop the referee in the Man Utd vs Gamba Osaka game from giving a penalty against Gary Neville for handball despite the fact that he had turned his back to the ball, but that’s beside the point.) These things can go either way but I tend to find that decisions on handball are made more according to their impact on play than perceived intent. In this case though I don’t think that the intent was to handle the ball.

87′: a pretty atrocious dive from Messi. He’s been poncing around all night with little to show for it. I don’t get what the fuss is about with him.

90′: four minutes will be added on.

90’+3: Iniesta gets his revenge for all the fouls committed against him in the game by smashing the ball in for Barcelona, and I raise a smile for the Catalans.

90’+6: Ballack has a shot blocked (the Barcelona defender has his back to the ball and it hits his elbow). With no penalty forthcoming he chases and pushes Ovrebo and generally gives the impression that he has gone insane.

Game over: Terry is the first to confront the referee. What a way to set an example, John.

Game over+1: Lampard has a go.

Game over+2: Terry has another go. Petulent child.

Game over+3: Drogba is booked for dissent, but still won’t let it go. Why is it that players think that they are untouchable after the final whistle? Sorry to disappoint.

Game over+4: Drogba requires physical restraint but still won’t shut his gob.

Game over+5: “Well, Didier Drogba has totally lost his head.” Your powers of observation astound me, Rob Hawthorne.

I sincerely hope that Chelsea don’t just get the book, but get the whole library thrown at them. They are the real disgrace in that sorry saga.

From UEFA.com:

“With regard to the UEFA Champions League semi-final second leg between Chelsea FC and FC Barcelona in London on Wednesday, UEFA has received both the referee’s and delegate’s report. UEFA is currently examining those reports, as well as gathering additional evidence. It will decide which action to take in the course of next week. No protest has been received with respect to the red card shown to FC Barcelona player Eric Abidal.”


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