Real Madrid got the scare of their lives from Juventus in their UEFA Champions quarter-final second leg on Wednesday, but there is no truth to insinuations they were saved by a soft penalty from English referee, Michael Oliver.
The truth was glaring – Mehdi Benatia got caught on the wrong side of Lucas Vasquez and in his desperation to make a tackle, pushed the Real Madrid man. Video replays in super slow motion confirmed the push and the Moroccan never even got any touch on the ball. It was a foul and was rightly called as a penalty.
The moment and time the penalty kick was awarded are inconsequential. The referee simply followed the rules and laws of the game.
Tempers flared, Oliver was surrounded, barged and bumped by Juventus players led by their captain, Gianluigi Buffon.
This act, though unprofessional was largely human. It showed the Juventus players to be human beings, girded in emotions. That 40-year-old Buffon went raving mad because a penalty was awarded against his side in the third minute of added time after clawing back a three-goal deficit was absolutely normal.
In the heat of the moment, almost all of us would have behaved like Buffon. To see the light and for it to be dimmed so dramatically and abruptly would have raised our blood pressures and seen the red mist descend.
The mist descended on Buffon despite his age and experience in the game because ultimately, the World Cup-winning goalkeeper is a winner. The goalkeeper will have cooled down by this morning and regret what he said about Michael Oliver.
In the eyes of Juventus’ opponents in Serie A, this was Karma. This is a Juventus team widely hated in Italy because of having major refereeing decisions frequently going in their favour calling blue murder because an English referee made the right decision in the 93rd minute. They say what goes around comes around.
If Video Assistant Referee [VAR] had been available, it would have confirmed the penalty call was 100 per cent correct. Why, because Benatia pushed Vasquez.
The Italian team can be sad, angry, and disconsolate but Benatia made a mistake and his team paid a great price. Juventus will not argue that the offside call on Isco in the first half was an incorrect one but they will argue that Real Madrid get favours from referees – what gall!
“We are sad because we played the game we wanted to and last year the same thing happened to Bayern Munich. Real Madrid are a great side, but every time there is a challenge, they get the decision and Cristiano Ronaldo scores,” said Benatia in a post-match interview.
The truth is football, as in life has emotional upheavals, and sometimes does not look fair but human beings must continue to be rational and law-abiding, or else, it all descends into farce. Despite the money and the pressure, it is still a game governed by specific laws that must be followed no matter the circumstance.
Juventus were not robbed on Wednesday; Real Madrid made a great play in the dying moments of the match and won the war just like all great teams do.
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