I rate the UEFA Champions league as the best sporting competition in the world but also rue ten things that seem to tarnish its image…
The UEFA Champions League features the beautiful game at its best. The football is the best, there are world class players everywhere and the competition is managed superbly.
Hence each controversy acts as a spoiler that ‘we could have done without’. Listed below are ten such instances, without which this tournament would have been better off.
10. Real Madrid are in crisis and need to revamp the entire team. Funny, really funny…..until a week ago they were busy gloating how Barcelona are in crisis! Wish they had initiated more pace in their defenders.
9. Atletico Madrid were knocked out of the competition despite not losing a single match. One feels sad for the team and its fans, and wonders if this should make us review the away goals rule.
8. Jose Mourinho has been accused of punching a reporter. Investigations are still on but will they yield any result?
7. If pre-match talks had matched the performances of defenders of Real Madrid, Inter Milan and Lyon, it would have done a huge service to football. Lyon’s offside trap against Barcelona didn’t work, Gabriel Heinze, Pepe, Fabio Cannavaro and Fernando Gago failed miserably against Liverpool and Nelson Rivas was woeful for Inter Milan against Manchester United at the San Siro.
6. Chelsea’s Juliano Belletti handled the ball against Juventus and gifted a penalty. Belletti did redeem himself by providing the killer cross to Didier Drogba which sealed the tie, but at this level such a tasteless way to give away an advantage that could have easily ended Chelsea’s season is very discomforting.
5. At the end, there’s no arguing Liverpool’s superiority over Real Madrid but doubts linger that the match officials killed a high voltage contest very early. Torres fouled Pepe en-route to his first goal and then Gabriel Heinze was wrongly adjudged to have handled the ball inside the Madrid penalty area.
4. If refereeing needs review, then the use of technology needs it too. Replays showed Didier Drogba had indeed equalized off a free kick against Juventus but his goal was disallowed by match officials. Chelsea’s progress means this won’t snowball into as big a controversy as the ‘ghost goal’ in the semi-finals in 2006, but that shouldn’t take away the focus from the issue.
3. Small sections of Juventus fans supposedly made monkey chants (a form of racial abuse) towards Didier Drogba. Investigations are still on.
2. Green laser light was flashed on visiting Villarreal players by Panathinaikos supporters in Athens. It took unsporting behavior to new extremes and needs serious punishment, before a trend is set.
1. Arsenal’s quarter-final progression in the Champions League was marred by news of pre-match stabbing that occurred when an Arsenal supporters’ coach was attacked by a set of Roma fans. Flares were thrown inside the bus, windows were smashed, people came in with bottles, knives and even a thunder flash went off. Sport has barely recovered from the firing at Sri Lankan cricketers in Karachi. Such Roman fans as no less innocent – they come with the same intent to kill.