Although the final result of 4:0 might arouse the impression of an easy-going match for the Hungarian officiating team headed by Viktor Kassai, Bayern - Barcelona was one of the toughest matches of the entire K.O. stage with regards to debatable, crucial situations. Unfortunately, the match officials had a bad evening and performed in a quite weak way, allowing at least two illegal goals scored by the Germans.
|Viktor Kassai (c) tz-online|
Before exposing these incidents, it must be said that György Ring was replaced by Gábor Erös as assistant referee due to a near-term injury. Thus, the officials that were involved are:
Referee: Viktor Kassai (HUN), Assistant Referee 1 (AR1): Robert Kispál (HUN), Assistant Referee 2 (AR2): Gábor Erös (HUN), Additional Assistant Referee 1 (AAR1): Tamás Bognar (HUN), Additional Assistant Referee 2 (AAR2): Mihaly Fabián (HUN), Fourth Official: György Ring.
Even though the replays are definitely not the best ones, it becomes clear than Lahm's shot would have been a shot on goal, meaning that goalkeeper Valdés could have expected a needed save to impede a goal. Piqué, who is visible in the screenshots 2-4, intentionally outstretched his arm, slightly moved the hand towards the ball in an unnatural manner and hence increased his body volume. Despite the pace of the shot and the small/medium distance between shot and hand, this was a deliberate handball in compliance with the Laws of the Games and the latest instructions. Both Viktor Kassai and the assistants on the far side, AR2 and AAR2, did not realize that. The referee himself actually had the best view on it.
Scene 2: Foul by Dante prior to 1:0 goal? (25th minute)
Bayern's defender Dante made a header after one of many corner-kicks the German team got. While having headed the ball, one can obviously see that he slightly gave support - his arms are on Dani Alves' shoulders. At the same time, one must constitute that the Barcelona defender did not jump and was thus generally inferior in this duel. It was only natural that Dante jumped higher, as his opponent stayed on the ground without any form of body tension. For my taste, this was a borderline situation, but for me a correct decision which also suited to Kassai's general line.
Scene 3: Deliberate handball by Alexis Sánchez? (32nd minute)
Another difficult call - again AAR2 was involved. Dante once again headed the ball after a corner-kick, the ball was then deflected by Alexis Sánchez' hand. The ball would not have reached an opponent or the goal. Alexis Sánchez had no chance to escape this handball. The very small distance as well as the fact that the Barcelona striker did not look at the ball and did not move his hand towards it support Kassai's and Fabián's decision that this was no deliberate handball. Of course the arm was widely stretched out, but only as a part of a natural movement. Consequently, giving no penalty was an acceptable decision.
Scene 4: Deliberate handball by Bartra? (47th minute)
Three players were striving for the ball, including defenders Bartra, Alba and Bayern's Martínez. Bartra clearly touched the ball with his hand after having been slightly pushed by Martínez. AAR1 Bognar was close to this incident and awarding no penalty here was another correct decision.
Scene 5: Was the 2:0 goal scored from an active offside position? Yes, it was. (48th minute)
Bayern's #33, Mario Gómez, was in an active offside position when receiving the ball from a header. For AR1 Robert Kispál, it surely was a tough decision to make. Many players were on the same level and perhaps one of them obstructed his vicinity a bit, which becomes clear by his try to move his head in the first screenshot, too. AAR1 Bognar seemed to have detected this offside, as he immediately and swiftly moved his head into Kispál's direction to create eye-contact. Kispál quickly ran 20-30 metres to the midfield circle though and so allowed the goal. This goal was illegally scored.
Scene 6: How could the officials miss the foul prior to the 3:0 goal? (73rd minute)
In this case, there is no doubt left that Bayern striker Müller blocked his opponent Alba without having possession of the ball. The more relevant question is: how could three officials miss this foul? Kassai, AR1 and AAR1 had a good view on this scene, which was not occurring too far away from the ball. It is at least another proof for the non-existing convenience of additional assistant referees.
Besides, we must discuss about offside. If Müller was closer to the goalline than the second last defender - and the replays are not clear enough to say so, but they indicate this tendency - then AR1 missed another offside goal. Müller having been in passive offside would thus have become active by blocking an opposing player (interfering with an opponent).
As already said, it is not clearly unveiled that Müller was offside, here, we can apply "in dubio pro ref".
Scene 7: Jordi Alba having thrown the ball into Arjen Robben's face - yellow or red? (89th minute)
The Laws of the Game and their guidelines generally allow both, a yellow and a red card, depending on whether the offence of throwing the ball at an opponent was characterized by a reckless manner (yellow) or by excessive force (red). Surely, the throw was not that strong, Robben perhaps simulated a bit. Nonetheless, it was a short distance and Alba deliberately threw the ball into his opponent's face and not just at an opponent. Also here, it is no totally wrong call, but just applying a bit more common sense, this should have been a sending-off offence. As Alba will miss the return leg, this yellow card naturally also has the character of a sending-off now.
In the end, the performance of the entire team has been error-phone and defective - keeping in mind that Kassai also did many things well and correctly. The huge mistakes that have been made surely have contributed to a high (but not undeserved) win yesterday evening, which will have an enormous impact on the return leg and in a way, on the whole competition, at least in many neutral people's eyes.
However, it was more than that: it was furthermore the unequivocal proof that additional assistant referees do not contribute to a better decision-taking on the highest level of club football. One may not tar all additional assistant referees with the same brush though as the past has shown, some decisions made by them which were not always visible for the public (consultations via micro e.g.) probably have been very good. Nevertheless, Pierluigi Collina's slogan "Now we see more" more and more becomes mere scorn in the ears of football fans, players and teams, as they have the justified feeling that additional assistant referees have no positive impact on the quality of decisions and the game on the highest level. Sometimes, they might feel that the slogan should say "Now we see less". One should analyze why such big mistakes can happen very close to additional FIFA officials, which we also saw in Croatia - Spain, e.g. Is it a bad angle to take decisions? Are they sometimes too close to the situations and fail to have the needed distance to a situation? Is there a clash of responsibilities? Or is the quality of the men deployed at the goallines not adequate enough for a UEFA Champions League semifinal? Would it be more sensible to abolish this experiment or to mix teams (having two further Elite referees on the goalline) on such a level? These are questions Pierluigi Collina and also Michel Platini should start to think about.