The world of football witnessed something beautiful last week. Barcelona did something which was unimaginable, unbelievable and unfathomable.
The team hasn’t been at their very best this season, often conceding shock defeats. The Catalonians, who have the best front trio in the world, have not been able to come up with the levels of creativity expected out of them. On the 14th of February, the Spanish side were to take on French giants PSG in a Champions League RO16 match. It was expected that Barcelona will emerge victorious by a margin of a goal or two. Though, the result left everyone surprised as the Catalans were downed 4-0. It left them with a perilous task of overcoming such a four-goal deficit.
In the return leg, Barcelona started off really well, as they went up by a goal within the first 5 minutes. They scored another, courtesy an own goal by Kurzawa. After the break, Messi converted a penalty which they won after Meunier fouled Neymar. Barca were living the dream as they led 3-0 with 40 minutes to go. Then came a moment which broke millions of hearts, when Cavani’ shot bulleted past Ter Stegen. Barca were now left with 3 goals to score in order to qualify.
At the 87th minute, began the best 8 minutes of football Barcelona has ever played in recent times. Beginning with a Neymar free kick and ending at Sergi Roberto’s late winner, Barcelona scripted the perfect comeback ever. Ever since they have been the most talked about football topics. Though, the match was marred by horrendous refereeing decisions and controversies.
The controversial decisions:
There were multiple reasons why the entire tie was full of controversies. The main culprit, in this case, is the referee of the game who was accused of favouring Barcelona out of the way. The fans believe that there were tie deciding decisions which all went in Barca’s favour.
Many fans claimed that PSG should have been given a penalty as the ball had made contact with Mascherano’s hand. At the same time, the counter argument was that the hands were not in an unnatural position as holding on to the ground while sliding is legal. There was contact, but experts believe that the call was fair by the referee.
This was still a more clear call, which somehow referees failed to see. Video evidence from all the ends proves that the Uruguayan had dived at the most minimal of all contacts. You can see the video here to decide the same:
Another allegation on the referee was that he awarded a penalty to the Barca side when Neymar “clearly dived”. Well, in this case, Neymar did play it smart by tripping over Meunier, it cannot be considered as a referee’s mistake. The only allegation that can be made here is on Neymar, that too on a moral ground.
Neymar’s off the ball foul:
This one was a clear red card(second yellow) for the Brazilian for he went and fouled a PSG player off the ball. Though the referee didn’t notice and neither did the linesmen. Hence, another opportunity lost for the French.
Sergi Roberto offside:
There were claims that Sergi Roberto’s last goal was offside. Though, on inspection, it is clear that he wasn’t.
The Petition, on Change.org, has garnered over 250,000 signatures. It calls for a replay of the game owing to the bad refereeing and unfair decisions. The petition can be seen here: The rematch petition.
As per the latest developments, the referee is most likely to be dropped from officiating any more Champions League games. The referee has been reprimanded for inefficiency. In his recent Bundesliga match, which was his first, he stirred up further controversy in the Hamburg match. The fans booed him throughout the game. It needs to be seen if UEFA takes further action against the referee.
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