Sunday, 22 February 2015

Measured ranting

Sometimes it's nice to let off steam.

First, the frustrating treatment of Chelsea players in recent matches. The last two games have seen the opposition get away with relative impunity. Eden Hazard was fouled 9 times in Paris, and this was allowed to happen with minimal punishment. I needed two hands to count the number of fouls (including one that was a booking in itself) Marco Verratti committed before the referee finally took his name. Fabregas went into the book for his first tired foul. Barnes went into every challenge yesterday with a dash of mischief, kicking at the Chelsea player when jumping for the ball. The challenge on Matic was horrific, but there aren't any "Barnes crimes" headlines (He didn't even get a yellow card, let alone a post-match lynching from the media).

This is worrisome. It gives opposition players the message that they can get away with violent conduct, while Chelsea players should expect the worst for any transgression.

About Martin Atkinson - That was a performance of such extraordinary ineptitude it brought back memories of Tom Henning Ovrebo. Two penalty shouts that would've been given on any other day weren't heeded, and a Chelsea player was sent off and another booked for retaliation against a Barnes tackle that, on many days, would've been greeted with a straight red.

Chelsea's Matic is sent off for pushing Burnley's Barnes in anger
 Nemanja Matic sees red for pushing Barnes in reaction to a dangerous tackle (Photo Credits: Irish Examiner)

Had Chelsea been fighting relegation, that refereeing performance could've ended up costing the manager his job and the club tens of millions. In fact, there could yet be clubs aggrieved that Burnley managed to get a point from the game.

There might not be an actual campaign against Chelsea, but nobody seems to be in a hurry to prove Jose Mourinho wrong.

After watching the last few games, I find it a bit incredible that Cristiano Ronaldo is considered the best player in the world.

His goalscoring record is outstanding, but there seems to be little else to his game. Any time he gets the ball, Real Madrid seem only seconds away from having to defend a counter-attack. The goals he scores are usually the only meaningful touches he takes all game. He was a lesser goalscorer but a much better footballer at Manchester United, where he would routinely beat players and drive forward moves rather than only be at the end of them.

Barcelona's Lionel Messi celebrates scoring against Atletico
Lionel Messi is the world's best footballer - and has been since 2009 (Image credits: International Business Times)

Lionel Messi, on the other hand, takes a full part in build-up play, makes some brilliant passes and is outstanding when moving with the ball. He has lesser physical prowess but is a more exceptional footballer. It's not like he's invisible in front of goal either - Messi has scored as many goals as Ronaldo this season, having played the same number of games. I find players like Messi, Robben, Isco and Hazard better to watch than Ronaldo.