Category Archives: VAR

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.

West Ham upset Chelsea in London Derby thriller

One team had wins in every match since the restart. The other had not received a single point.  It was the underdog, West Ham United that was able to come away with the three points against an in-form Chelsea side, securing a crucial 3-2 victory.

The Blues dominated the possession game in the beginning of the first half, but The Hammers were the first ones to have a threatening chance. 

Off a corner kick, the home team had thought they had taken the lead courtesy of Tomas Soucek. Ultimately though, VAR denied the goal after Michail Antonio was caught offside.

In the 41st-minute, Christian Pulisic was able to win Chelsea a penalty after Issa Diop conceded a foul in the penalty area. Willian was then able to convert from the spot to take the 1-0 lead.

The lead, however, was short-lived after Antonio Rüdiger made a terrible mistake and gave West Ham a corner. The home team capitalised on the chance and Soucek found the back of the net again, this time without any interference from VAR.

 

Six minutes into the second-half, West Ham were able to take the lead thanks to a goal from Antonio. After trying to draw a penalty, the Englishman bounced right back up and got his shot right past goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga. 

 

Later in the half, Pulisic won a free kick in the attacking half after a great run, which caused former Chelsea Academy product, Declan Rice, to receive a yellow card. Willian was then able to score directly off the free kick to draw The Blues level at 2-2. 

 

All signs pointed toward a draw between the two sides from London. Substitute Andriy Yarmolenko, however, had other ideas. On a fast break, Antonio was able to find the Ukrainian, who finished his chance with ease in the 89th-minute.  This secured a a potentially priceless win for The Hammers.

 

The victory helps West Ham move up one spot in the standings as they try to avoid relegation, heading to St. James’ Park on Sunday to take on Newcastle.

Chelsea, meanwhile, who could have taken sole possession of third place after Leicester City’s loss at Everton, will now fight to keep a Champions League spot at home on Saturday against Watford.

See the table below.

https://247-football.com/2020/06/25/premier-league-table/

What have we learnt since the Premier League resumption?

After the return of Premiership football to our screens, have we really learnt much about the League since the resumption?

Well, the wait has certainly been worth it some pundits have said but has it really been worth the build-up of over 100 days?

What we have learned already is that Liverpool are a step closer to their title dream. We are all having to get used to the sight of very few people inside stadiums. VAR certainly won’t go away and even technology has the odd blip, which leads to more controversy up and down the land.

As we are all getting used to viewing football as we have never seen before. One good talking point has been welcomed around the country. The sight of both sets of players, officials and team personal taking the knee in solidarity together. Such a welcome sight and fully applauded. It’s is so good to see the Premier League sending out a message to the rest of the footballing and sporting world that Black Lifes Matter.

Aside from Liverpool edging towards lifting the title, on just the first day back since the resumption, controversy reared its ugly head once again when Sheffield United were denied a certain goal when technology failed. Admittedly it’s the first time this has unfortunately happened for over 9,000 times the system has been in place. What a time for this to happen, as the Premiership was taking centre stage.

One has to feel sorry for Michael Oliver- England’s top referee- as he was trying to explaining to surrounding players that his watch didn’t make a noise to indicate that the ball had crossed the line. Not his fault but wouldn’t it have been more sensible that somebody in the truck watching pictures of the match would have seen that clearly the ball was over the line? That person in the VAR room could then have communicated with Oliver to say to him to check the monitor at the ground and make his own mind up about the decision. If he was allowed to do this, then make no mistakes Sheffield Utd would have been awarded the goal.

We also learnt since the resumption that Arsenal players are certainly struggling with fitness levels, having already seen a handful of players taken off through picking up injuries. Clearly the three-month break has affected them, which is a big concern of their fitness levels. Yes, every team has looked leggy at times which is understandable due to not playing competitive football for over three months but for some sides including Arsenal it begs the question, what instructions were the players given to do for training during lockdown and resuming back into training? Something definitely isn’t right there.

However, nothing has changed with the Gunners defence, which still looks as fragile as before the enforced break. Arsenal need leaders, now they haven’t got any. Oh, for the leadership chiefs such as Tony Adams and Martin Keown- who must be shaking their heads every time they watch Arsenal play- who must begin to wonder will this problem ever be rectified.

We also learn in the past few days how good a player Bruno Fernandes is and the return of a hungry Paul Pogba. I didn’t think I would ever be saying that for a long time.

Despite appearing to not be worrying about a haircut- Yes Roy there are mobile hairdressers around who will be queuing up to cut your hair- Hodgson is building a very dogged and tenacious side in Crystal Palace. Looking a very well-oiled unit, especially at the back, having not conceded a goal in almost six hours of football. Palace could be outsiders to possibly sneak into a Europa League spot come the end of the campaign.

The two W’s after the restart, Wolves and West Ham appear to be going in different directions. The Hammers are in a relegation dogfight, while Wolves are flying thanks to the brilliant duo of Adama Traore and Raul Jimenez – 23 goals this season and counting.

Another interesting point would be that since the resumption the sides struggling at the bottom of the table have really struggled since the restart. A fact that could be put down to playing home games with no crowd behind them to raise morale. However, you would have felt that with eight games to go, crowd or no crowd wouldn’t need to lift players, who know they have a massive battle on their hands to stay up.

To finish, although in most games playing with no fans present it is no material advantage to both sides, over the weekend in both Premiership and Championship games there were only five home wins out of 22 games played. When it comes to a derby match, it clearly will benefit both teams to have fans in the stadium. Take the weekend’s Merseyside derby between Everton and Liverpool. A game that was played with no passion and at times looked similar to a practice game. A lukewarm encounter which hardly got going. Not much commitment from both sides aside from a couple of late chances. This game desperately needed a full house at Goodison Park, which I’m sure would have given the game more of a feisty contest that normally happens in derby matches.

We must, however, remember that for the foreseeable future this is the way that football will be for a while. We will get used to it, with fan noise or not, carboard cut outs or not and drink breaks, which so far are amounting to a managers team talk on the pitch.

It is either this or nothing. I know what alternative I would rather have. Even if it means watching Mike Dean with that amazing grey beard and listening to Roy Keane bemoaning about Manchester United’s crop of current players. Welcome back Premiership, we really have missed you!