Thursday, May 7, 2009

Champions League: Chelsea Dagger

The last thing you want to read in the lead of any post-match recap is the name of the referee. The more prominent his name, the more controversial his performance. Such was the case with last night's Barcelona-Chelsea Champions League semifinal. While it should be remembered for two phenomenal strikes from Michael Essien and Andres Iniesta, the efforts of hack Norwegian official Tom Henning Ovrebo will forever be linked with this match.

There were plenty of bad calls to go around. Chelsea were obviously vocal in defeat (technically a draw), but had Barcelona fallen short, they would have had plenty to gripe about as well. The 66th minute red card to Barca's Eric Abidal was a highly questionable one, but no call (or lack there of) was more egregious than the missed hand ball against Barcelona's Gerard Pique. Pique's post-match comments were essentially, "Yeah, my bad. Oh well."

Barcelona's scenes of stoppage time joy were quickly overshadowed by Chelsea's post-match ugliness. You don't want to say Chelsea have only themselves to blame- they had every reason to dispute the poor officiating- but they could have settled the matter far earlier by converting any of numerous scoring chances after they lead 1-0, or by showing more offensive effort in the first leg at the Nou Camp. I don't put much stock in Chelsea's cries of a UEFA conspiracy to avoid another All-English Final, but there has to be some explanation as as to why such a poor official oversaw such a high profile game.

Nearly every game story included one of several frightening photos of Didier Drogba's post game fit. Rumors have long surrounded a possible Drogba departure from Stamford Bridge, but such negotiations will be trickier with Drogba likely facing a lengthy UEFA ban.

The end game did provide for comical fodder on YouTube, with Michael Ballack's hysterics set to the tune of the always enjoyable "Yakety Sax." If you can't lose with dignity, at least leave us laughing.

1 comment:

SoccerJerseys said...

I do agree with you Dan. The controversial decisions made by Tom Henning Ovrebo during the second leg of Barcelona and Chelsea’s Champions League semi-final have left bad tastes in many a mouth, but a week after the game that turned into a circus, the Norwegian referee has spoken to the press.