Euro Football Rundown
This week was very special and eventful with Luis Suarez headlining and taunting. Bayern Munich experienced their first loss of the season in the Bundesliga. More controversy follows Juventus and Lazio. In the EPL, the top of the table clash between Chelsea and Manchester United was also marred with controversy. Finally, I end with a special note on technology in football.
5) Liverpool’s Suarez in spotlight in Everton comeback draw
It was a fantastic game and atmosphere inside of Goodison Park Sunday for the 219th edition of the Merseyside derby between Everton and Liverpool. Luis Suarez was again the man for the Reds, as he is always, after he collected his sixth goal in eight league matches. John Aldridge, a Liverpool legend, critically commented Suarez before this fixture stating that the Uruguayan would never become a natural goal scorer. Pretty ironic comment seeing that Luis leads the team in goals scored.
Suarez was the hero for the first goal, although credit does go to Everton defender Leighton Baines for unintentionally deflecting the striker’s drilled cross-shot, that was going well wide, into the back of the net – thus deeming this an own goal. He then proceeded with his taunting goal celebration which was quite comedic as he raced toward Everton’s bench and dove full-length in response to Toffees’ coach David Moyes’ pre-match comments about players simulating. Were these statements targeting Suarez? Perhaps.
Six minutes later, Suarez made it 2-0 for the visitors. Reds captain Steven Gerard curled in a free-kick with precision to the on-running Uruguayan who got the slightest of touches to re-direct the ball to the bottom left-corner.
Everton were not down-and-out and proved that they are capable of remaining near the top this season with a sensational comeback. At the 22 minute mark, Leon Osman collected a rebound from a corner at the edge of the area and unleashed an absolute screamer that curled low and into the corner of the net – 2-1.
Although Liverpool is in much dire need of the three points, it was not meant to be on this day. The Toffees equalised with ten minutes remaining when Marouane Fellaini crossed into the area for Steven Naismith to get a touch on the ball and turn it in – 2-2.
Matches when teams are ahead 2-0 should always end that way and allowing Everton to comeback to draw level in a derby must really sting. Of course it stung and it must have really angered Luis Suarez seeing that the crazy-man was lucky to escape with only a yellow after standing on Sylvain Distin’s Achilles after the ball had gone out of play. Like I said, Suarez is the man for Liverpool and he stole the spotlight on Sunday. Ridiculous.
Everton are in fifth place with 16 points. Liverpool are in 12th spot with 10 points.
4) Bayer halts Bayern’s Bundesliga winning streak
After an astonishing eight straight league wins for Bayern Munich, the league leaders fell short for the first time this season at the Allianz Arena losing a heartbreaker to Bayer Leverkusen 2-1 with a cheap late own-goal.
The visitors had taken the lead three minutes before half time. Munich defender Philipp Lahm attempted to clear a cross but Stefan Kiebling was there to deflect the ball past Manuel Neuer.
On 77 minutes, it was the Bundesliga leading goal scorer Mario Mandzukic grabbing the equalizer after Claudio Pizarro’s cross met the Croatian’s head for an easy one. Mandzukic now leads with seven goals.
Late in the game, luck did not go Bayern’s way as Sidney Sam headed Gonzalo Castro’s cross from the right, off the face of Boateng and past Manuel Neuer for the game winner.
This result does not change much as Bayern Munich continue to lead the German league with 24 points. Bayer Leverkusen are now tied for fourth with15 points with Borussia Dortmund.
Match facts: This encounter was dominated by the home side who gathered a total of 23 shots with six shots on target compared to Bayer’s total of five shots and five shots on net. Reynckes’ men also enjoyed 68% percentage possession compared to the visitors’ 32%. They are still the team to beat and were very unlucky not to walk away with full points.
3) Referees ruin Serie A Sunday
You wouldn’t think it but Catania v Juventus could have been an exciting match in the Italian top flight. It was a balanced affair with the Sicilians playing defensive and counter-attacking against a lacklustre Bianconeri attack.
The hosts took the lead on 25 minutes when Gonzalo Bergessio tapped in the rebound off of Francesco Lodi’s looping header had come back off the post. After the goal was scored, the Juventus players lamented for an offside that was not called while the ref and the Catania players were returning to the centre of field. After consulting with the linesman and the fourth official over the headsets, the ref overturned the goal deeming it offside thus disallowing the goal. Video replays clearly show that Bergessio was a step behind the last man before he turned the ball into the back of the net.
Things took a turn for the worst in the second half for the Catania. At the 57 minute, Mirko Vucinic spotted Nicklas Bendtner at the edge of the area who hammered a shot at Mariano Andujar who gave up a rebound to Arturo Vidal who netted in the eventual winner for the visitors. However, replays show that Bendtner was a step offside. Close call.
To make matters even worse, Giovanni Marchese was justifiably sent off for a second bookable offence after he handled the ball intentionally leaving Catania to 10-men. The ref however maybe made up for this record as, near the end of the game, Sebastian Giovinco was sent clear on goal was fouled by last man Nicola Legrottaglie who escaped even a yellow card warning let alone a red card expulsion. After the match, Catania’s president claimed that it was not the first controversial call to go against his team seeing there were others in the games against Parma and Inter as well.The game ended 1-0 in favour of Juventus who extend their undefeated Serie A record to 48 games and continue to lead the league with 25 points.
After the game, the referee designator for the Serie A commented on these happenings and said that these are human errors. We are people and people can make mistakes. I agree with him because we, as television viewers, have the benefit of video replay and the imaginary black line and shading that is shown in the above images to help us judge the situation as offside or not. Even so, the Catania goal was much easier to detect as onside even with the naked eye. Juve’s goal, in my opinion, is a case of human error. It looks pretty tight even in the images. Last season against Genoa, Juve scored a similar goal to that of Catania and it was called offside when Pepe, the goal scorer, was in fact onside.
There was also controversy in the Fiorentina-Lazio match where Lazio’s Stefano Mauri placed a wonderful diving header into the back of the net which was flagged offside. Replays suggest it was a terrible decision from the linesman as Juan Cuadrado kept Mauri onside.
Opinion: Although many Juve fans were probably delighted to see that their team was not losing, I, on the other hand (if you’ve been following my articles, you should know by now that I am a Juventus ultra), would have rather seen the Old Lady down 1-0 simply because it was a legitimate goal. We all know that interim coach Angelo Alessio would have made crucial changes in the second half in addition to give the Juve players a pep talk at halftime boosting the team with confidence in the second portion of the game. This has been the trend this year with the Old Lady. Call me arrogant or cocky, but I am fully confident that the Bianconeri would have come from behind to collect the three points anyway. In addition, it would have made it a much more entertaining game to watch and it would be something to be proud of rather than having to hide our faces even though it is not Juve’s fault by any means. The fault belongs only to the linesman and the system in which football is governed.
2) What?! Controversy strikes the EPL too? Man U defeats Chelsea in controversial style
For the most part, this was a balanced affair between league leaders Chelsea and followers Manchester United which ended 3-2 for the Red Devils at Stamford Bridge. It got really heated though as Roberto Di Matteo and the usually calm-and-collected Sir Alex Ferguson had to be separated after controversy struck even this match-up when the Blues ended the match with 9-men. A very popular word these days – controversy.
Four minutes into the match, David Luiz unfortunately bagged an own-goal after Robin van Persie smashed the post with a shot that rebounded off the Chelsea defender and into the net. Eight minutes later, the Red Devils extended their lead to 2-0 with RvP scoring his ninth of the season.
The Blues would not sit back and watch the three points head to Manchester when they levelled the encounter through Spanish wizard Juan Mata and Brazilian international Ramires.
Man U took the lead with a controversial goal when Javier Hernandez, a.k.a Chicharito, snatched the winner 15 minutes from time from an offside position. Replays clearly show that the Mexican was offside.
The controversy did not begin there however. Before this occurred, Fernando Torres received a second yellow for diving although the replays, in fact, clearly depict Evans clipping the Spaniard. This infuriated Torres who complained to the fourth official who was then forced to distance the two coaches away from one another on the touchline as things were getting ugly.
But again prior to this happening, Blues defender Branislav Ivanovic was already expelled when he brought Ashley Young down who had been played cleanly through by RvP. Replays suggest there was indeed contact, therefore it was a justified red card.
The Kicker: Even a deaf and blind person could predict that this would be a heated battle seeing that in pre-match interviews, Ferguson claimed that the team built from Jose Mourinho seven years back was better than the current Chelsea which Di Matteo decided to ignore displaying a fine act of class in my opinion.
The ref’s interpretation of Fernando Torres’ foul to be simulation is not a surprise to me at all. In previous articles, I pointed out that Torres does sometimes have the tendency to dive which was probably known by the man in charge. In this case however, Torres was correct as there was contact. Fernando, don’t ever dive and you’ll get the obvious calls.
This was Man United’s first victory over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in the EPL in 10 years.
Chelsea continues to lead with 22 points. Man U follows closely with 21.
1) Instant Replay and Goal-line technology a must in today’s football
As a result of the two aforementioned events, the number one important fact of this week’s edition of Euro Football Rundown has to be that FIFA needs to invest and allow instant replay to be a part of the game. It is encouraging to know though that recently FIFA has claimed to be considering the implementation of goal-line technology in the form of the Falcon Eye which is what is used in Tennis for close calls. This would inevitably eliminate the phantom goal phenomenon.
But something more needs to be done for goals that are incorrectly flagged for offside or that are obviously offside and are allowed in addition to fouls that may be considered simulations when they are or are not.
The argument here is that it would slowdown the game as it is somewhat played at a slower pace than other major sports such as hockey and basketball (which is obvious considering soccer is played on such a larger surface). A suggestion/solution would be to hand the fourth official a monitor, table and chair so that he or she can sit and review plays while the match continues. Referees are now equipped with microphone headsets. Therefore, the fourth official would be able to communicate the result of the play under review via the headset and once the play stops either for a free-kick, penalty, goal kick, corner kick or throw-in, the ref could announce to the fans the result of the play under review. The alternative to this could be that the message of the result of the play under review is displayed on a large screen with which most stadiums are equipped anyway. I have complete faith that if this were to be implemented it would certainly help to abolish these unfortunate controversial events that we read every week and would surely help clean up the corruption in this sport.
Nothing is for certain though as seen through the NFL volunteer refs that completely screwed over the Green Bay Packers against the Seattle Seahawks. During the last play of the game, a Packer defender clearly caught the ball in the end-zone for an interception which was overturned and ruled a touchdown for the Seahawks handing them a victory. It was complete and utter nonsense.
What are your thoughts on the implementation of instant replay in European football?