AC Milan’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic was utterly disgusted by the refereeing at his side’s 3-1 defeat to Barcelona at the Nou Camp last might and it is obvious to understand why. Milan were looking to make it to the semi final for the first time since 2007 when they were crowned European champions.
Having leveled the tie through Nocerino mid way through the first half, Milan were heading for a famous result at the Barcelona fortress, until center referee Wolfgang Stark handed Barcelona a controversial second penalty with only minutes remaining to the break.
The decision proved to be the turning point in the match as the Catalans went on to qualify for the semi finals. So could Ibrahimovic be right about Barcelona always being favoured? In order to find that out, we have to look at Barca’s brief meteoric rise in the tournament objectively. The first instance of ‘favouritism’ toward the Catalans happened roughly 7 years ago.
At the time, it came in the form of the then Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho. Mourinho’s Chelsea and Rijkaard’s Barcelona met in the round of 16 which Chelsea eventually won 5-4 on aggregate. During the first leg at the Nou Camp, Chelsea took a shocking lead but later stumbled to a 2-1 defeat. The match also saw the sending off of Didier Drogba something Mourinho was not happy about.
Mourinho later went on to accuse Rijkaard of meeting with referee Frisk at half time to turn things in Barca’s favour. This marked the rivalry between the two sides. Fast forward 3 years later and the pair again met this time, in the last 4 stage. After a barren draw at the Nou Camp, Barcelona with their new star Lionel Messi went to the Stamford Bridge full of confidence.
The Blaugrana however, were stunned by Michael Essien’s first half volley and Chelsea looked to be on their way to their second consecutive final. However, denied penalty appeals (at least 4) and a late Andres Iniesta goal sent the Blues crushing out.
Pictures of an incensed Drogba pointing his finger at referee Tom Ovrebo who had turned down Chelsea’s penalty appeals were splashed across the world. Chelsea were left biting themselves and Barcelona went on to win their third European title.
Of course, there are many other instances where teams have felt ‘cheated’ out of a victory by the Catalans, however, these are the ones that stand out. So now that you are in the know, do you think Ibrahimovic and Mourinho are right about Barcelona being favoured, or are they just a phenomenal side?
photo credit © al7n6awi