Thursday April 12 2018
Borderline at the Bernabeu

That last-gasp penalty for Real Madrid proved interpretation goes more along party lines than ever. Susy Campanale understands both sides

Italian football earned back some pride in Europe this week with Roma’s magnificent comeback and Juventus were about to repeat it 24 hours later. Leading 3-0, they certainly deserved to go to extra time and it was heart-breaking to see it all end on a debatable spot-kick 30 seconds from the final whistle. Unfortunately, what followed is tarnishing the memories of this performance.

You can’t help but feel for Gigi Buffon in what may well be the final Champions League match of his career, getting a red card for protesting a debatable spot-kick. He’ll probably readjust his views in the morning, when the red mist has passed, and recognise his comments about referee Michael Oliver were over the top.

I do find it utterly ridiculous for some to compare this with Zinedine Zidane’s last career contribution, a red card in the World Cup Final for France. Saying the referee should be in the stands eating crisps is really not the same as head-butting an opponent in the chest. I get the feeling quite a lot of that rage was held over from Italy’s World Cup exit to Sweden and, like any repressed feelings, exploded in an uncontrolled fashion.

What we’re seeing is the way people use borderline incidents to fuel their existing narrative. Was this a stonewall penalty? No, from one angle it looks as if Medhi Benatia clearly gets the ball and knocks it on to Lucas Vazquez’s chest. From another, it seems as if he goes through the Real Madrid player to reach it. Was it a scandalous decision to award the penalty? No, at first glance I certainly thought it was a foul.

Juventus President Andrea Agnelli called for VAR to be introduced in the Champions League, but considering the way fans, pundits and even former referees have described the incident, there would still be no clear-cut interpretation everyone could agree on even with a thousand replays.

The reaction has been along party lines, as more or less everything seems to be in this polarising age we live in. You’re either with us or against us, that’s how people want it. Nuance goes out the window and interpretation travels along existing narratives, whether it’s sport, music or politics. You are not allowed to go against your tribe.

You can’t say that was a clear-cut penalty and anyone who says otherwise is in the pocket of Big Juve, buying into the media conspiracy that favoured the Bianconeri for over 100 years. Equally, it’s wrong to suggest those who thought it was a foul are ‘haters’ just trying to tear down the most successful Italian club.

There is tremendous irony in the way both sides of the debate have reacted, mainly in the way they accuse each other of irony without realising their own shortcomings. Other Serie A supporters laugh at Juventus for implying the referees have damaged Italian clubs in Europe and expressed fury at a debatable decision. They fail to notice this is precisely how they behave and would’ve done in the exact same situation.

Juve fans complain that “losers seek excuses” when a dubious Serie A decision goes against them, yet are replicating that response right now to a perceived wrong. Real Madrid, and before them Barcelona, are the Juventus of Europe, the club all others assume are on the end of favourable treatment because they are more powerful. If you carry prestige and power, you’ll get the benefit of the doubt most times. That’s not bribery, it’s just human nature.

It hurts to mount a comeback like that and see it disappear 30 seconds from extra time. It’s understandable to be upset and to say this wonderful tie should not have ended that way. It’s not a robbery, nor is it just desserts. It’s just football.

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Have your say...
Gary Lineker said (tweeted) it best Sending off Buffon was like shooting Bambi.
I wish Referees in 2nd leg knockout ties are made to analyze the first leg so they can get a feel of how the tie is going and what teams have benefited and suffered in the 1st leg.
This should help the referee with sense of occasion and surely this referee having awarded the penalty could have taken the time to allow the players to get their heads around the gravity of his good or bad decision (bad for me).
poor Gigi
on the 12th April, 2018 at 9:37am
first of all, league is way different than cup competitions where a "ref mistake" can knock out a team. A league is a marathon. If you are good enough, 99% of the time you win it, no matter what goes down. Referring mistakes will balance out in 38 weeks...

Second, you don't get to talk all that nonsense with 59 points after 31 rounds. What are you being robbed off exactly? Stop pretending your team has any say in the league. Bang average team, bang average fans...smh...
on the 12th April, 2018 at 9:20am
Very well put @Ravanelli for me personally it's exactly like you said if it's a Champions League quarter final possibly going into extra time and then at the 93rd minute there is a dubious penalty you simply don't call it. but truth be told I would have never in a million years expected us to be 3-0 at the bernabau so I left this game with my head Held High and still fairly happy I must admit .I mean it took as always some refereeing help for real to kick is out.
on the 12th April, 2018 at 9:07am
So cruel for Juve! They're on the brink on a historic comeback. But THAT ref's dubious penalty decision ruins everything! But, I also blame Juve's attitude to sit back and expect for extra time after matuidi's goal. This made Madrid control the game and create chances. Why didn't they just keep attacking and seeking for the 4th goal? Surely if they can manage it, Madrid's player will be down psychologically as they need to score 2 goals to advance. The same attitude happen when they faced bayern in QF 2 years ago. Anyway, Grazie Juve! You show the world calcio isn't dead. Btw,We still have ROMA! Daje ROMA! BRING UCL TROPHY TO ITALY THIS YEAR!
on the 12th April, 2018 at 9:02am
Interello you and your team are a joke
on the 12th April, 2018 at 8:51am
Nice try Susy! I'm not one for conspiracies but goodness me, how does one team(the same team) get 2 REFEREEING DECISIONS IN THEIR FAVOR AT THE SAME STAGE OF THIS COMPETITION FOR 2 SUCCESSIVE SEASONS AT THEIR HOME STADIUM. Let's face it, it is the offside goal against Bayern last season that helped Madrid go through last season. This season, everyone knows it's that penalty decision which helped Madrid go through again. Coincidence? I think not. First it was Bayern last year, and now Juve!
on the 12th April, 2018 at 8:47am
Sad but true.
on the 12th April, 2018 at 8:18am
Buffon's red card was a disgrace.

The team is up by 3 and making a remarkable comeback, away from home at this stage of the CL, it's Juve vs Real.. then you award a penalty in the 93rd minute... what do you expect? Smiles and handshakes?

Of course there will be dissent and anger. An experienced referee would have absorbed all that for like 30 seconds without being trigger-happy.

You just do not award a penalty at the 93rd minute unless it was clear cut.

Buffon's reaction and comments were not over the top, they were accurate. The ref was a dream killer. If anything, Buffon was kind.

There's so much to say about the game but it doesn't matter much now.

Juve will win this stubborn trophy eventually. I'm just sad about Buffon.

Football can be very cruel sometimes.
on the 12th April, 2018 at 8:15am
Wanted Juve to win, soft penalty.

Find it rather ironic Juve's reaction about the referee, Agnelli wanting to train the referees using VAR, you mean like in Italy where Lazio had a stone wall penalty shout and VAR wasn't used? Wonder what his opinion was about that. Didn't criticise the referee then.

Buffon is going to be furious this weekend in Serie A? How does he think Serie A feel week in and week out when Juve get help they don't even need.

Mend Italy first, then Europe.
on the 12th April, 2018 at 8:05am
What goes around comes around. Thoroughly enjoyed watching the juve fans all happy until the last minute. I was hoping it would go to a last minute penalty and it did. Real got away with it again like they always do. Just like juve in Italy, real are just as corrupt in la liga. Funny how all of a sudden juve want var! At the start of the season var went against them and after they complained and now it is not even used against them where there are dubious decisions. Just ask benevento.
on the 12th April, 2018 at 7:44am
Fair play to Juve. I've had a go at them recently for not quite living up to the standards of previous "great" sides but they really showed some heart and were unlucky to lose. Having said that I really don't see what the outrage is about the penalty. The decision definitely could've gone either way and personally I would've given it. As Susy pointed out, we live in an age of perpetual outrage so I probably shouldn't be surprised.
on the 12th April, 2018 at 7:38am
You bias suzzy you gotta nothing to write juve was denied two penalty in the first leg? and last night there was robbery the world of football Witnessed and you still show your hatred heart for juve by trying to justify the evil of Olver by comparing serie A and the robbery, why italia football hire trash heart like u only God know
on the 12th April, 2018 at 7:28am
Hi Susy,

For me, you found the right words to describe a very delicate game situation and the bigger overall picture. I'm a big fan of Juventus but above all a great fan of football. I was utterly disheartened last night, even more than the penalty it was the sending off of Buffon that broke me down. The man had earned the chance to at least have a shot at saving the penalty awarded to Real.

VAR would have given the referee the chance to not having to make a split-second decision.

on the 12th April, 2018 at 7:24am
another pointless article from SC
on the 12th April, 2018 at 7:19am
How much I wanted to see that 30 of extra time, it would have been nail biting, Juve had 2 subs left, they only needed 1 and Madrid would have had to get 2, it would have been interesting. Alas its not to be and the Juve capitulation at big moments continues, so good but for 20s and they suffered massively. It was probably a penalty, even if he got the ball he came round the back to get it. I just think people wanted it to be won differently
on the 12th April, 2018 at 7:18am
What Susy touches on in the third last papa is cognitive dissonance and she is correct. But does this not encourage her to recognise the same in her rantings about Milan and anti-inter views?
on the 12th April, 2018 at 7:18am
here come all the Juve got what they deserved, what goes around comes around posts!!! Well maybe they did, and that's football, sometimes you get it sometimes you don't. However, as a Juve fan I was saddened by the reaction of the players, it was excessive, and Buffon is a sporting icon and should have not spoken until he had calmed down. However, Italian football showed it is capable. Come on Roma and Lazio. Imagine 5 in Champions league next year
on the 12th April, 2018 at 7:16am
On first sight it seemed a definite penalty. Oliver cannot be blamed. All my sympathy related to dodgy refereeing decisions this year goes to Lazio - they should be at least 6 points better off, and I support Inter. The thing for me was if it was a penalty or not, it was how the Juve players harassed and insulted the referee, and thought they could get away with it.
on the 12th April, 2018 at 7:14am
Wonderful piece, Susy! Good enough for a guest presentation at Coverciano Centre for coaches' and refs' benefit.
on the 12th April, 2018 at 6:07am
Shame to end the night like this juve were amazing I never believed they would be up 3-0 at the bernabeu gives encouragement to the likes of Roma.Well proud of juve and Italian football.This happens in football and it's easy to understand buffons reaction....he should have been cautioned first never straight red for dissent that's a direct failing from the ref...i hope in future ppl put pressure on refs to make right decision like Fergus used to
on the 12th April, 2018 at 5:54am
Disgusting call. The worst call against an Italian team since the 2002 WC. I was sick to my stomach and I don't even support Juve. I hope Roma beat them!
on the 12th April, 2018 at 5:26am
Everyone who's familiar with me on this site knows that I despise Juve and Juve fans.

Having said that, Susy, you're absolutely wrong about this game. Juve showed heart, courage, and skill, and deserved to at the least see extra time. Maybe they should have even gone through.

This wasn't a penalty. VAR proved it. Red carding Buffon for dissent was insanity. The English ref was so far out of his depth he was strolling on the deck of the Titanic.
on the 12th April, 2018 at 4:37am
It was a call that could have gone either way. I don't think there was much of a shove, and the RM player went down like he was shot.

But Benatia took the risk - proving his penchant for doing at least one mindless thing in every game.

It's a huge shame that we didn't see what would have went down as the the greatest double comeback for Serie A ever.

Either way, Juve need to revamp the squad. M-Savic, Icardi, Can, Meyer, Caldara, Perin, Spinazzola and a few more might do the trick
on the 12th April, 2018 at 4:03am
Decisions like these are not just football! It has become an acceptance because instead of standing up against poor refereeing we have let it go. There use to be a time where penalties were hardly given. Now you see at least one a game with everyone saying ‘I’ve seen them given’, but that hardly makes it a penalty. You yourself said in your article that it was not clear-cut so how can you say you understand both sides?

There is one side, if it is not clear-cut it is not a penalty!
on the 12th April, 2018 at 3:46am
Nice article. For me it wasn't a penalty.
on the 12th April, 2018 at 3:43am
Susy say: Juve fans complain that “losers seek excuses” when a dubious Serie A decision goes against them... No we don't we say Losers seek excuses when a Serie A decision goes for us, and you guys are crying like children. It's totally different...
on the 12th April, 2018 at 3:28am
This is the most rubbish article I have read in a long time. I would like to ask the author, if the roles were reversed, would juve get the call against Real. Lets look at the first leg, Cuadrado clear penalty not given. Forza Juve all the way, Uefa forget about playing the competition just keep handing real the trophy, we saw it last year at this stage vs Bayern and now Juve this year. In the Final against Atletico they get a clear offside goal in their favor.
on the 12th April, 2018 at 2:12am
Rubbish Susy. Spoken like a bias AC Milan fan.
on the 12th April, 2018 at 1:51am
ciao amici!
it won't be GIGI last cl!!! he showed an amazing abilities as a goalie!!! no one is on his level!!
JUVE have made us proud as a nation!
you can't beat a 12 MAN TEAM(real Madrid+ referee )
JUVE has shown a superb organized team today!
they got every thing perfect today!
now we are out I fear for AS ROMA to be paired with Real& losing on unfair penalty!!!
under normal circumstances AS ROMA should win!
Ronaldo was nothing but an ugly faker today!
on the 12th April, 2018 at 1:47am
Nah Susy nice try but I still think it was a weak penalty to give.
The ref messed up. Was he biased I'm not sure, most likely just a poor decision, but he made himself the star of the show that's for sure and maybe that was his ambition
on the 12th April, 2018 at 1:44am

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