Too Close to Call in La Liga

Real Madrid’s stunt of playing victim and whining after the 3-4 loss to Barcelona in the El Clasico is too cheap and not a making of a champion.

Considering that Cristiano Ronaldo benefited from a wrong penalty decision, Real Madrid are just obsessed about beating Barcelona. This ‘we must beat Barcelona obsession’ is Real Madrid’s undoing. Yet it is consistency in all other games that counts. As things stand, Real Madrid no longer has destiny in its own hands after their 1-2 loss to Sevilla on Wednesday night gave Atletico Madrid and Barcelona, who won their fixtures, the initiative.

Yet, contrary to general perception that it is Barcelona’s title to lose, there are still more twists to come. Barcelona are fallible and with Atletico Madrid to come on the last day of the season, this three-horse race is pretty dicey. And there is every sign that fans must brace themselves for final-day heartache. However, as much as it was unfair that some Real Madrid players criticised Alberto Undiano, the referee who officiated the El Clasico, it is a matter that deserves more discussion.

The La Liga’s referees selection committee doesn’t seem to care about impressions set. Undiano was the referee in charge of the El Clasico in the first round at the Nou Camp, which Barcelona won 2-1.

Undiano denied Ronaldo a blatant penalty after an innocuous charge in the back from Javier Mascherano when he was clear on goal. By then, Barcelona were leading 1-0. With that controversy still looming large, why was he the one to officiate the reverse El Clasico fixture at the Santiago Bernabeu?

The La Liga needs to style up on this issue, and although Undiano is one of the best referees around, he can’t be officiating the same fixture whenever it comes around.

Pathetic Probert

That said, I just can’t imagine what would have been if referee Lee Probert was the one in charge of the El Clasico and made the kind of decision he did in the Arsenal-Swansea tie on Tuesday night. With the score-line at 2-2 and added time ticking away, Jonathan De Guzman broke away on the counter-attack and as he closed in on Arsenal’s goal, Probert blew his final whistle before De Guzman could attempt a shot on goal.

Only an incompetent referee with no common sense would do that. And that is probably what Probert is. As much as Swansea remonstrated, Probert’s ‘defenders’ said it was his discretion to end the game when he did.

If players are sent-off for stopping a clear goal-scoring opportunity, then Probert must suffer the same fate because he clearly did that to brave Swansea. Probert’s decision was probably the worst I have seen from a referee and should be stripped of his Fifa badge. This discretion of referees should work within limits of common sense, which I doubt Probert has.

While it isn’t uncommon for referees to finish games after awarding a corner-kick, we are getting into a situation where the likes of Probert will award a penalty but then call off the game before it is taken on the pretext that time is up.

Classy Yaya Toure

Enough about referees. And over to Yaya Toure. Since the Ivorian’s arrival in the Premier League, his influence has grown in leaps and bounds. First, he is a man-mountain in midfield that is imposing and controls games for Man-City. He is an incredible goalscorer match-winner and midfield schemer, who creates goals.

One would struggle to find a more complete midfielder than Yaya in the World today. And for what it is worth, he is proving to be better than Patrick Vieira and Roy Keane were, two of the best midfielders to grace the Premier League in its 20-year history.

With the way things are going, there is no reason why he can’t leave Paul Scholes, Steven Gerard and Frank Lampard in his wake too.

Source : The Observer

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