In world football, one of the offside rule conditions is: When a player is ahead of the opposing defence but behind the ball at the time his colleague gives him possession, then the player receiving the ball is onside.
At the 37th minute of the crucial Champions League match yesterday, Barcelona were stolen a vital opportunity to go 2-0 up at the Emirates against Arsenal. The referee wrongly ruled out a clean goal by the Argentine Lionel Messi.
Opportunely, there is a convincing video evidence from 101 Great Goals, which shows the full combination of moves between Messi and Villa, leading to the cancelled goal. Watch the short, but credible highlight below:
So, just as the video evidence above ends all speculations upon the genuineness of Lionel Messi’s goal, it is clear that Referee Nicola Rizzoli’s decision turned out to be the source of Arsenal’s victory. Should Barca had been allowed to go 2-0 up deservedly in the first period, who knows what the remainder of the game would have produced?
Certainly, the Spanish titans were incorrectly denied some momentum; but conversely, it was Arsenal who were given the chance to keep believing in a comeback, since the first half only separated the two sides by a goal margin. In any case, the English giants and their fans are now celebrating one of their greatest achievements under the leadership of Arsene Wenger, while the Spanish media have already formed a huge saga of conspiracy against Barcelona—involving Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho.
Referee Nicola Rizzoli, a friend of the Special One
We saw it last year, when Referee Olegário Benquerença boldly robbed the then-defending European champions Barcelona at Inter Milan’s San Siro in the Champions League’s semi-finals. The Portuguese official’s act was thus portrayed as the result of an agreement between him and his “beloved” fellow-Portuguese star Jose Mourinho.
With a rude suppression in Italy in the first leg, Barcelona went on to lose their Champions League final tickets to the Serie A title holders; and sadly for them, they are about to suffer yet another complicated disqualification from the Champions League this season. In fact, Referee Nicola Rizzoli is known to have friendly relations with the current Real Madrid coach, but there is obviously no proof that he received instructions from his Portuguese friend to deceive the Catalans.
Rizzoli and the so-called plan against Barcelona
Perhaps, the Spanish media and Barcelona supporters may be failing to see the true side of what occurred yesterday. It appears emotions have pushed them to assume what an Arsenal fan may describe as “exaggerated”; but in effect, they have the right to suppose whatever they want, since the truth has yet to be revealed.
Definitely, it makes sense to believe that an exit from the Champions League would take away much of Barcelona’s power this season—hence giving Real Madrid a boost of mental strength. With the Copa del Rey final getting closer and closer, each and every match on Los Blancos and Los Cules’ list of fixtures is highly significant.
This seems right, yet Real Madrid have never openly wished their archrivals bad luck in contests this season, and the idea of a plot from the Real Madrid boss and the Italian referee against Barcelona looks quite outlandish, at this point in time. Paradoxically, it might even be that Rizzoli simply made a mistake, as the play at the 37th minute was moving at an elevated level of speed.
Furthermore, neither Lionel Messi himself, nor his teammates complained to the referee after the cancelation of the goal. Nonetheless, even then, it is a shame that Barcelona accepted their weird “fatality” with ignorance.
So regardless of everything, what is already done cannot be reversed; and therefore, moving on is Barcelona’s only option. Arsenal are presently the team with the advantage ahead of the return leg at the Camp Nou, but the Blaugrana could make the most out of their spared away goal.
The year 2010 saw Barca disgrace the Gunners 4-1 in their home subsequent to an unmatchable display from Lionel Messi; nevertheless, Arsenal are no longer the weak soldiers that they used to be, and they will be alert come March 8. The referee for this big match will without doubts be under deep scrutiny, but so will the Barca players, and the defenders of Arsenal.
See what happened in the second leg: Barcelona 3-1 Arsenal - Controversy