The UEFA Champions League continues to live up to its expectation as the premier football tournament. In the four quarterfinal matches, we saw 12 goals – an average of three per match, and we saw records set whilst also witnessing the unsavoury correlation with the politics of ISIS.
Here are five things we learnt:
UEFA can be callous
Football is supposed to be driven by the players, the fans and the sponsors – in that order. But that is no more the case. With the bombing and the injury to Marc Bartra, playing the match less than 24 hours afterwards was callous in the extreme as Borussia Dortmund had no input in the decision and they ended up losing 3-2.
Dortmund midfielder, Nuri Sahin put it very explicitly. “I know football is very important. We love football. We suffer with football. We earn a lot of money and we have a privileged life, but we are human beings and there is so much more than football in this world. Last night we felt it.”
Dortmund manager, Thomas Tuchel is surely not happy with UEFA. “We were informed by text message that UEFA was making this decision, a decision made in Switzerland that concerns us directly.
“We will not forget it, it is a very bad feeling,” he added despairingly. Truly, it was a callous decision made primarily because of money made from the television broadcast.
The morphing of Ronaldo is in full tilt
With no goals in the Champions League since last September, it was wholly pertinent that Cristiano Ronaldo would get a brace against Bayern Munich. It was also pertinent that the two goals were poached in the box – the first a striker’s finish past Manuel Neuer and the second a jab through Neuer’s legs. With a loss of speed and the ability to turbo past defenders, Ronaldo has honed his instincts to finishing so that he can now feature exclusively as a striker. With those two goals, the 32-year-old became the first player to score 100 goals in the Champions League.
The ‘Messi Messiah’ template has worn thin
When Lionel Messi starts gesturing for opponents to be yellow carded, then you know that he is frustrated and not getting the desired result. When he takes umbrage at a shake of hands, then there is a major problem. Messi was unable to truly influence Barcelona’s play against Juventus, which they lost 3-0. Although he produced a sublime pass for Andres Iniesta in the first half – that was his total contribution. Barcelona need another upgrade quickly as the “Messi Messiah” template seems to be wearing very thin.
Leicester can continue fairy tale
Leicester City played averagely against Atletico Madrid and escaped with a 1-0 defeat, a first half penalty that was largely controversial. And even though, the Foxes failed to produce one shot on target, they would be buoyed by the little deficit, as they were successful in overturning a 2-1 deficit to Sevilla in the last round. Can they go on and make the final of the Champions League? We wait!
Video Refereeing Assistant is definitely needed
Referees are continually finding it hard to make the right decisions – not because they do not know the rules but because players have gotten fitter and faster. The penalty decision given against Leicester would have been avoided with the help of a Video Refereeing Assistant (VAR) even though referee Jonas Eriksson tried to keep up with play; a retreating Danny Drinkwater ultimately blocked his view of the foul on Antoine Griezmann, which was definitely outside the box.
Football they say is like show business, and ultimately the show must go on.