On Sunday, FC Barcelona and Real Madrid battled it out with both teams trying to prove one thing. Who is better? It was a gut wrenching first half with numerous scoring opportunities for both sides. Barcelona used their strong possession tactics to net two goals in the first half, but did not defend well. Madrid used their size advantage up front to dominate Barcelona’s backline and scored two goals in the first half. A fast paced first half came to an end at two a piece.
The second half was a different story. The referee constantly blew his whistle, interrupting the flow of the game, and it made it hard to enjoy. The referee first called a foul when Cristiano Ronaldo was tripped just outside the box. The referee rewarded Madrid with a penalty kick even though one could make the argument the foul was outside the box, but nonetheless it was a foul. Madrid converted the penalty kick and was up 3-2.
The referee then gave Barcelona a makeup call when Neymar was taken down in the box by Madrid’s defender Sergio Ramos. Neymar went down easy and it should not have been a foul, but the referee rewarded Barcelona with a penalty kick and Ramos received a red card. Lionel Messi converted the penalty kick and it was now 3-3. Minutes later, the referee rewarded Barcelona with another penalty kick in which Messi also scored. The only goals scored in the second half were three penalty kicks, and Barcelona won 4-3.
The first half was a fun filled match, but the referee ruined the second half of the game. Both these teams are top teams in the world with the top players. It is Messi against Ronaldo. This game has a chance to be a high scoring, eventful game, but the referee took the buzz out of it.
So should the referee and penalty kicks ultimately decide the outcome of the game?
No. When the referee continues to blow his whistle and stop the flow of the game it takes the fun away from the fans and the players. If the second half of the Barcelona and Madrid game was anything like the first half, there could have been a number of fantastic goals.
Referees should allow a physical style of play and be consistent throughout the game. He should call it both ways, but let the players play, especially when it is two of the top teams in the world. Referees should only call a penalty kick if it is a clear, hard foul. The penalty kick rewarded to Madrid was a foul, but only one of the penalty kicks rewarded to Barcelona was a foul. The foul that resulted in Ramos’s red card was just used as a makeup call for the referee. It was clearly not a foul and it changed the whole game because Madrid had to play the rest of the game a player down. Without this penalty kick, the game would have been different and it may have ended in a different result.