40 matches of UEFA Champions League's Round of 16 and UEFA Europa League's Round of 32 respectively have been played, and - colloquially spoken - there are four "colls" to be outlined as kind of brief summary...
Grasped as a controversial manner of interpreting the Laws of the Game by most of the people, William Collum's policy of zero tolerance with regards to players who actively and unequivocally attempted to influence disciplinary sanctions in the match between Galatasaray and Schalke 04 has been one of my personal highlights of the last week. Clearly put forward at plenty of UEFA seminars, such as Rome's advanced course for UEFA Elite referees in 2007, referees must book players who either verbally or even physically demand yellow cards for their opponents. In the concrete example, Gala's goalkeeper Fernando Muslera demanded a yellow card to Schalke's Farfán for having kicked the ball away after an offside flag and the consequent whistle by the Scottish officials. Despite the fact that Muslera has proven a generally good knowledge of the Laws of the Game, he had seemingly forgotten that those who demand yellows are also "rewarded" with it. He was immediately cautioned by Collum. And although the RE teacher of Scotland had made clear his way to deal with such unsporting behaviour, Schalke's Jones made the same mischief having been tactically fouled by an opponent. While sitting on the ground, he looked up to Collum with an eager facial expression and simulated the gesture of issueing a card. Collum reacted in an even frustrated fashion and swiftly booked the Schalke midfielder, too. Having been observed by and having been in a pre-match-briefing with noone less than Pierluigi Collina, I doubt that this was no targeted policy in this match - although I would appreciate it if much more officials would be that consistent in future like Collum, who by the way showed a good performance in a partly tense match.
One week before his job in Istanbul, Collina had to explain a situation or even a surreal incident that had occured at Celtic Park between Celtic and Juventus to Italian forms of media. As this video depicts, the first shot by Matri had already crossed the line, before another Italian striker made sure that the goal would count. Neither AR2 Calvo Guadamuro nor AAR2 Muñiz Fernández made any gesture to indicate that they had recognized this fact. Alberto Undiano, the referee, whistled after this goal, which he normally does not. So it might be a sign that they were aware but merely a bit unsure about this incident. In his known manner, Collina made then clear in an interview that everything had been ok and seen by the officials in an appropiate manner. To be honest, everything else would have been surprising.
UEFA's courage in terms of appointing Svein Moen for Arsenal - Bayern was in a way rewarded. Specially in the second half, the Norwegian talent clearly showed his skills and was able to show a very good performance. Unfortunately, his first half was certainly not that smooth and in the 55th minute, a critical mistake - but in UEFA's eyes no crucial mistake - happened. A shot by an Arsenal midfielder was blocked and deflected by one of his teammates and then crossed the goalline. This deflection was quite well visible to both, Svein Moen himself but also AAR2 Dag Vidar Hafsas. Moen however immediately and too quickly signalized that he awards a corner kick to Arsenal. The corner led to the 1:2 goal for the English side. In fact, there was a lack of consistency in the teamwork between both officials. It however does not matter who made which error at this moment, who was too swift. It's another tremendous example for the mere fact that the presence of additional assistant referees neither enhance the quality of decisions made on the goalline in critical goal/no-goal situations, nor improve the basic decision taking in the box. Fortunately, this example was that clear so that not even Pierluigi Collina was able to cherry-pick as usual.
|Navas short-sleeved - brave, but sent off... (c) Eurosport|
The Romanian referee crew headed by Ovidiu Alin Hategan was surely not to be envied on last Thursday. -14° C - football is not fun at such temperature levels in Moscow. One also may question the sense of playing matches in such circumstances at all; for the officials' health, collars and pants were the only small warranty. But be prepared, at World Cup 2022, there will be a temperature difference of - compared to Moscow - 60° C.