Category Archives: VAR

The Merseyside Derby Penalty: should it have been awarded?

Following the recent Merseyside Derby at the weekend between Liverpool and Everton at Anfield, a match won by Everton, the debate raged around the penalty conceded by Liverpool, who were already 1-0 down at this time

A ball was threaded through the Liverpool defence and Dominic Calvert-Lewin looked a good bet to score….

Until…

A decisive tackle by Trent Alexander-Arnold appeared to put the Everton striker off his stride.

This resulted in Calvert-Lewin falling into the back of Alexander- Arnold then being carried over the England right back’s head and shoulders before apparently being tripped by his right leg. This caused the Everton striker to fall to the ground and appeal for a penalty.

The appeal went to VAR, which has been the target of many critics this season.

The match referee spent a few moments reviewing the incident, before awarding Everton a penalty, which they subsequently scored with the last kick of the match to win the game 2-0

The penalty has been the subject of fierce debate since and featured on SkySports Football show in the ‘Ask The Ref Segment’ featuring Dermot Gallagher.

Unsurprisingly, Gallagher as so often is the case with him, sided with the referees judgment and viewed it as a penalty.

It could be argued, however, that Alexander-Arnold in moving to intercept the tackle, could be considered a tad unlucky because his initial movement as seen in the video below did not make contact with Calvert-Lewin.

But as Calvert-Lewin hit his back, this caused the defender to bend forward, which resulted in his right leg going upwards and catching the forward

Was it a penalty?

The referee thought so….

Jurgen Klopp obviously did not…..

Public and Pundit reaction is mixed, but I certainly think Alexander Arnold was harshly penalised.

What are your views? Feel free to provide them in the comments below…..

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE WEDNESDAY NIGHT PREVIEW

Following Manchester United’s successful trip to Paris on Tuesday, both Liverpool and Manchester City will be looking to emulate their rivals with successful starts to their 2020/21 UEFA Champions League campaigns.

Here are your previews ahead of the big games on Wednesday night…

Real Madrid v Shakhtar Donetsk 17.55

Madrid will be hoping for a better European venture third time around having been eliminated at the quarter-final stage in August. Still possessing plenty of quality, Zinedine Zindane’s men are rightfully still considered a real thrrst at the business end of the compeition.

However, off the back of a surprise home defeat to Cadiz in La Liga, Los Blancos perhaps aren’t the side they once were.

They should still have enough quality to come past the Ukrainian champions.

Manchester City v Porto 20.00

Pep Guardiola will be without star performer Kevin De Bruyne for the visit of Porto on matchday one. Despite this they will go into the match as huge favourites, and joint favourites with Bayern Munich for the competition outright.

City are desperate to end their wait for European success and will hope a solid start against Porto will set them on their way.

Their Portuguese visitors are no easy task, and will boast West Ham loanne Felipe Anderson as part of their squad.

Ajax v Liverpool 20.00

This meeting between two of the giants of European football will come as a welcome break for Liverpool from talking about injuries, VAR controversy and that derby day draw.

As we all by now know Virgil van Dijk will miss this game, and perhaps the remainder of the season. Both Alisson and Thiago also miss out for the Reds whilst Jurgen Klopp does welcome back Naby Keita into his squad.

Ajax still present a major opposition, albeit a little stripped of their quality players who helped them reach the semi-finals of the competition during 2018/19, the year Liverpool made it six.

Bayern Munich v Atletico Madrid 20.00

A clash of epic proportions see’s holders play host to Liverpool’s extra time conqureors Atletico Madrid.

Hansi Flicks men are many peoples favourites to make it back to back Champions League’s whilst Diego Simeone’s charges are always difficult to beat.

This match promises to be a battle of free-flowing attack against rigid well organised defence.

Other Fixtures

RB Salzburg v Locomotiv Moscow, Midtylland v Atlanta, Olympiacos v Marseille, Inter Milan v Borussia Monchengladbach

Is the Sky Bet Championship the Best League in the World?

The latest Podcast episode for 24/7 Football features sports journalist Peter Moore discussing his articles, which include the dramatic conclusion to the 2019/20 Sky Bet Championship season, how Leeds United might fair in the Premier League and how VAR can be improved upon for the new season…..

How do you reckon Leeds United will fair in the Premier League this season?

What more do you reckon can be done to improve VAR?

You can listen to the podcast by clicking on the link below: https://soundcloud.com/adam-stephens-425096853/24-7-football-episode-5

You can also watch the Webcast here:

Wolfsburg Edge Past Barcelona to Reach Fourth Champions League Final

Wolfsburg will have the chance to add to their two previous Champions League crowns against French opposition on Sunday, after they overcame Barcelona in a hard fought semi final at the Anoeta Stadium this evening.

Fridolino Rolfo’s goal was the difference between the sides as Wolfsburg managed to hang on to reach yet another final, with underdogs Barcelona missing a host of chances after dominating the game for large spells.

In what was a cagey opening affair, Lluís Cortés team started brighter, enjoying more possession whilst limiting Wolfsburg to few forays forward.

The Blaugrana had an early penalty appeal waved away after Nigerian forward Oshoala’s flicked header hit Kathrin Hendrich on the arm. Wolfsburg goalkeeper Abt was forced to scrambled to parry the ricocheted effort over the bar as it appeared to be looping in.

Despite howls of protests from Barcelona players and a guilty looking Hendrich, the referee opted to give a corner instead of a penalty. VAR was not in operation for the game, but will be brought in for the first time for the final.

If it had have been in use it is likely that it would have overturned the referee’s decision, as replays showed that it was a blatant handball.

Wolfsburg began to find their groove, with Rolfo blazing over on 24 minutes after a swift counterattack. Doorsoun picked the ball up in the middle of the field and drove forward before releasing the Swede with an incisive pass, but she couldn’t keep her effort down.

Just after the half hour mark Barcelona went close to a break through, with Oshoala poking wide after latching onto a superb through ball from Hansen. A combination of Abt and Hendrich managed to put off Oshoala who skewed her shot past the post.

The game really burst into life during the final few minutes of the half, with Rolfo firing wide and Huth heading straight at Panos after Rolfo teed up the German with a pinpoint cross.

At the other end, Hamraoui hooked the ball over the bar from range as the deadlock remained unbroken at half time.

Barcelona missed the first of their guilt edged chances on 51 minutes when former Wolfsburg star Hansen, baring down on goal having broken through the defence, attempted and failed to square the ball to Oshoala. A shot seemed like the better option, and Wolfsburg with bodies back, managed to clear their lines.

They were left to rue that opportunity soon after as Wolfsburg punished them just six minutes later. Barcelona failed to clear Harder’s audacious attempt at an overhead kick, and after pinball in the box, it fell to Rolfo who pounced, stabbing home from a matter of yards out to give Wolfsburg the lead.

Barcelona almost got the equaliser they deserved on the hour when Oshoala met a left-field cross and directed a powerful header goal-ward. Abt was equal to it however, demonstrating her superb reflexes to tip over Oshoala’s effort.

They squandered another marvellous chance when Mariona Caldente somehow put the ball over the bar with the goal at her mercy. She had managed to get on the end of Hermoso’s well timed cutback but couldn’t apply the finish needed to steer it into the bottom corner.

Barcelona continued to launch swathes of attacks, with Wolfsburg happy to sit back and defend their one goal lead.

They again went close when full back Torrejon laid the ball into the path of Hermoso who was in a great position in the box. The winger took one touch to settle herself before dragging her shot off target, as Barcelona’s frustrations continued.

A superb last ditch tackle from Hendrich prevented Hermoso from tapping home from close range a teasing Hansen cross as Wolfsburg held on to reach their first Champions League final since 2016.

They will meet either current holders Lyon or fellow French outfit PSG in Saturday’s final, with those sides contesting the other semi final tomorrow evening at the San Mamés Stadium.

Reflecting on the game, match winner Rolfo told BT Sport:

“We’re really happy with the result. We’ve made it to the final. It was tough game today but I’m proud and happy we’ve made it to the final. We didn’t play our best game today but we still won the game. We were a little bit lucky but I’m still so proud we did it.”

Barcelona’s Hansen also gave an interview after the game and summed up the tie very well:  

“The goals were the difference today. We played a good game and we had enough big goal chances to score at least three goals.

But we scored zero and they had one goal out of nothing so, for me, it feels very hard .. this defeat. But we have to congratulate them and wish them all the best for the final.”

Should ex-pros help out VAR officiating?

VAR,  not for the first time this season, once again appeared in the spot light  following more controversy surrounding no less than three different incidents this week.

Incorrect penalty decisions were made by the video assistant referee in all three of Thursday’s Premier League games.

Tottenham should have had a penalty when Joshua King clearly shoved Harry Kane in the back, in their goalless draw with Bournemouth.

Bruno Fernandes won a spot kick, which should not have been given against Aston Villa.

James Ward-Prowse hit the bar after being awarded a disputed penalty against Everton.

With so many talking points raised about VAR, there has been a suggestion by former footballer Tim Cahill, than an ex-player should be involved to work alongside the VAR officials at Stockley Park.

Going forward, it would appear to make sense that somebody who has played the game professionally, and knows how players react in circumstances during a game, would know more than a referee, who in most cases would never have played the game before.

The only downside to this in my opinion would be would the VAR officials listen to what that person would have to say, take on board and put into practice.

Overall, on debatable decisions I am sure they would like some impact from the ex pro, but I fear that the final say on the decision would be down to the VAR official.

I am still unconvinced that they would generally be swayed by expert advice from somebody who has played and understands the game more.

It hurts me to say that I genuinely believe quite a few referees don’t know the game of football. It is not just about knowing the laws of football; it is also about knowing the game.

To simplify and eradicate even more controversy going forward, surely the on field official should be allowed to go and check the pitch side monitor, and then make his own decision.

All too often the man in the middle never goes ahead and puts this into practice. It is the VAR crew who in turn make their own decision, therefore undermining the person who is supposed to be referring the game.

My own solution to this mess would be simple really.

When an incident should be reviewed, let VAR tell the on field official how they see it.

The referee should then go straight to the pitch side monitor to make up his own mind and then decide what decision to go with.

The referee who is officiating the actual game must be the sole person in charge of events on and off the field, in my opinion.

Currently, it is a case of somebody many miles away making decisions that really should be made closer to home.