Wednesday, November 21, 2012

"If you get touched, you go down." - Michael Owen

Owen was commenting on the incident in Man City's Champions League game against Real Madrid, when Carlos Tevez won himself a penalty by falling over because of the proximity of Real defender Arbeloa. Note I say proximity, not contact or foul.

Because there was no foul! Contact that would not have upset the balance of my elderly Mother-In-Law, who takes a tumble at the merest zephyr, perhaps, but Tevez did not need to fall down.
But as Owen said, so revealingly (because he so rarely gets to set foot into the penalty area these days), as soon as a striker feels the hot breath of a defender on his neck, he goes to ground. "If you get touched, you go down."
 Simple words, but scary ones.
What it means is that a defender cannot challenge in the penalty area. The attacker will go down and they are becoming extremely skilled at taking a tumble. Look at Tevez tonight; he really looked as though he'd been clumsily bumped by Arbeloa, and went sprawling to the turf. No dramatic dive, just what looked like a real foul.
Arbeloa received a second yellow card and Real gave away the equalising goal because of the penalty that resulted from this incident. 
I can't really blame the referee for getting this one wrong. The simulation was so clever, so subtle, that it was almost impossible to make out even with the benefit of television replays.
The draw meant Real Madrid finished second in their group rather than top, possibly an important distinction.
No-one will probably make a fuss of Tevez's tumble or Owen's admission. We've all got just a tad too cynical.

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