Last night, panels of commentators around the world jumped around their respective studios and heaped praise on Barcelona for their miraculous comeback. However, it appears that they very much misjudged the general public perception of the events that had just occurred inside the Camp Nou.
In recent years, football fans have become increasingly incredulous as repeatedly suspect incidents have taken place in Champions League ties featuring Barcelona. In fact, such is the public perception of UEFA’s favoritism towards the Catalan side that they many now sarcastically refer to them as ‘Uefalona‘.
For those who scoff at the conspiracy theorists amongst us, try and explain the following. In 2009, Chelsea football club had the better of Barcelona until a last minute goal from Andres Iniesta sent the Catalans into wildly jubilant celebrations and through to the final.
However, when one considers the 90 minutes that had come before and the baffling refusal to award Chelsea a penalty on four clear cut occasions, there certainly seems to be something more than suspect about UEFA’s officiating of the tie.
In 2011, with Arsenal ahead in their Champions League tie with the Catalans, Robin van Persie was bizarrely sent off for having the audacity to take a shot on, one second after a whistle had sounded for offside. A whistle that he was supposed to immediately acknowledge in a stadium filled with close to one hundred thousand screaming fans.
In 2010, Inter Milan managed to somehow make it through a Champions League semi-final with Barcelona despite the fact that they too were reduced to ten men after an infamously blatant act of simulation from serial offender, Sergio Busquets.
And then there was last night.
Barcelona were gifted two soft penalties in the Nou Camp against PSG while the French side were simply instructed to play on after Javier Mascherano blatantly fouled Angel Di Maria as he looked set to kill the tie for Paris.
However, speaking after the game, pundits around the world unanimously lauded Barcelona for their ‘miracle’ comeback. ‘They’re more than a club!’ they shouted. ‘You’ll never see anything like this again!’
Unbe-fucking-lievable! Greatest game ever.
— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) March 8, 2017
This is the greatest night ever in the history of football. Unbelievable!!!
FC Barcelona. More than a club.
— Bolarinwa Olajide (@iambolar) March 8, 2017
Although Wednesday night’s comeback was unprecedented, we have witnessed scenes like this before. In fact, we see scenes like this every year or two in the Champions League and, more often than not, they rather coincidentally involve the Catalan giants.
Reporting on PSG’s loss in the Nou Camp last night, the BBC wrote about the ‘greatest European comeback of all time’ describing the game as ‘deep, instinctive passion at its most authentic and unrefined.’
The only problem is that although this is very much the narrative that UEFA seem so desperate to push, a quick look at the top comments underneath the BBC’s report suggests that, on this occasion, the vast majority of neutral fans are not willing to sing along to the pied piper’s tune.
4. Posted byEd
on8 Mar 2017 21:52
Barca were diving all night and won a penalty right at the end by diving. Horrible team!!!!
85. Posted byguntherdas
on8 Mar 2017 22:05
What an amazing comeback by UEFA. I didn’t think they had it in them, but where there’s a bias, there’s a way.
In future, UEFA could save themselves a lot of hassle with allowing those pesky “smaller” clubs the chance to qualify, and just fast track Barcelona, Bayern and Madrid straight through to the semi finals, then offer the fourth spot to whoever stumps up the most cash.
39. Posted byMcBilty
on8 Mar 2017 21:56
When Suarez dives, anything is possible
90. Posted byRafa1986
on8 Mar 2017 22:07
Man of the match UEFA. They got their team through in the end. You know they wouldn’t let Barca go out at this point.
84. Posted bySmoothSailing
on8 Mar 2017 22:05
The amount of diving by Suarez and Neymar was disgraceful and they never should have had the second penalty. PSG were robbed but boy were they hopeless tonight.
21. Posted byRayc
on8 Mar 2017 21:55
Dirty little biter dives again…
29. Posted byZiss
on8 Mar 2017 21:55
Still waiting on the replay of the Di Maria chance. Spanish FA probably seen it was a clear penalty so refuse to show it. Suarez’s dive was utterly pathetic, but Barca get away with this sort of thing all the time so can’t be too surprised. Hopefully whoever they get next round put them in their place. Repuslive club, a perfect fit for Suarez.
Barcelona are not more than a club nor should they ever be viewed as such. It’s twisted notions such as this that consistently see bigger clubs treated favorably by officials when the purity of the game lies in the fact that every side should play by the same set of rules.
Barcelona’s achievement in the Nou Camp on Wednesday night was undoubtedly impressive and it will certainly go down in the history books as one of the greatest comebacks in the history of the game. However, for the skeptical amongst us, the victory should once again be marked with an asterisk that alludes to something else. Something that, when it comes to Barcelona and the Champions League, we see all too frequently.