Wednesday, May 27, 2009
The European club championship is this afternoon, live from Rome on Espn 2, betwixt Manchester United and Barcelona. How Barcelona got here is a bit of a joke. In the first leg of the Camp Nou, Barca could not penetrate Chelsea's stout defence consisting of 10 Blues in the box. Afterwards, Barca showed that burgundy is truly their team color as they whined incessantly about Chelsea's "negative football."
In the second leg, at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea far outplayed Barca, leading 1-0 through the 91st minute thanks to a wonder-volley from their best all-around player, Michael Essien. They should have had several more goals through penalties, as these pictures imply.
After a non-handball-call in the 94 minute, the proceedings devolved into chaos ending with Didier Dogba, the recipient of two non-calls, blocking the ref's passage and yelling "It's a fucking disgrace" into the camera. (peep the excellent remix).
How can the world's second-fastest team sport continue to be refereed by only one man and a handful of final-word-less assistants? Would a better system be one where the game is controlled by a referee sitting in a luxury box above the field of play monitoring the flow via tv monitors? In this scenario the referee on the pitch would have no authority, receiving instructions from above via radio. This would drastically cut down on the sad sight of grown men grovelling with the referee. Like a red-light camera, the ominous eye-in-the-sky could prove to be more effective.
The game also exposed the pointlessness of the "away goal" rule, whereby a goal scored by the tourists counts double if the score is level after two games. Over the last 10 years there have been 56 home goals and 36 away goals scored in the semi-finals. Anyone who watches these games sees away teams usually playing most timidly, happy to get one away goal at most. Goals, especially in major tournaments, are fluky and hard-to-come-by; it seems arbitrary to make some goals worth more. Almost like counting goals from more than 30-yards away as three.
Ideally these games would be played single-elimination-style, as the final is, but then again we would just see more nil-nil draws ending in penalties.
Which brings us back to today's between the best of England and the best of Spain. As with our pal Frownie, we will continue to pick these games according to our philosophy that the game needs fixing, and until necessary changes are made we will continue to get the same undesirable results.
So, 0-0 and on to the penalty lottery from the Eternal City it shall be.