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Did Chiellini's Red Card Seal Champions League Fate of Real Madrid and Juventus?

COPENHAGEN, DENMARK - SEPTEMBER 17:  Giorgio Chiellini of Juventus in action during the UEFA Champions League group stage match between FC Copenhagen and Juventus held on September 17, 2013 at the Parken Stadium in Copenhagen, Denmark. (Photo by Ludvig Thunman/EuroFootball/Getty Images)
EuroFootball/Getty Images
Tre' AtkinsonFeatured ColumnistOctober 23, 2013

Real Madrid defeated Juventus 2-1 at the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday night to all but seal a first place finish in Champions League Group B. But that won’t be the story of the next few days.

Early in the second half, Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini cut off a run by Cristiano Ronaldo and was immediately shown a red card by referee Manuel Grafe for extending his arm a bit too far.

Normally anytime a red card is given there will be those who praise and disdain the call. Fans are always on one side or the others when it comes to tough calls, but not many were ok with Chiellini’s red.

In truth, the Italian defender did extend his arm when he went into the challenge, but it was far from a red card. Actually, it was far from a simple yellow and arguably not even a foul at all.

However, the card was given and Chiellini was forced to leave the pitch while Juventus attempted to mount a comeback at the Santiago Bernabeu.

With every questionable call come repercussions. The worst thing about Chiellini’s sending off wasn’t the immediate effect on the match; it was the fact that this single decision may have already decided the group with three games still left to play.

For Juventus this was a must-win match. Having already drawn their first two matches, the Italians desperately needed to earn points to stay in the fight to reach the next round of Champions League play.

Simply put this was not a game that Juventus could afford to lose.

At the same time, a victory for Real Madrid meant that they would all but clinch the group. After the dust settled the Spanish side had taken nine points from three matches, while second place Galatasaray trail by five points.

This lone match was going to prove to be the pivotal game of Group B and such a questionable call decided its fate.

Until Giorgio Chiellini was sent off, Juventus was standing toe-to-toe with their hosts. The Italians could have equalized at any moment, but that all went away when the red card left the pocket.

For the rest of the match Juventus seemed a stunned. Though they did make things interesting towards the end of the game, it was clear that they were not going to recover.

/Getty Images

Real Madrid should not be blamed for what happened, though Cristiano Ronaldo did make much out of the challenge. Los Blancos put in a strong performance and perhaps deserved the three points for their efforts.

The sad thing is that a single referee in one game can influence the entire group.

With three games remaining, Juventus will be forced to make up two points on Galatasaray if they want to reach the next round of the Champions League.

The Italians still have a shot at advancing from their group, but it will not be easy. At this point it will be an uphill battle for Juventus, while Real Madrid has seemingly already won the group.

Neither side can be held responsible for the call that the referee made, but the entirety of Champions League Group B was affected.

Could Juventus have found another goal and taken points off of Real Madrid? We will never know. What we do know is that any chance of a comeback left the field with Chiellini.

 

Did Chiellini deserve the red card? Could this call have already decided the outcome of Group B? Leave your thoughts and comments below!

 

Tre’ Atkinson. Follow me on Twitter for more discussions on the UEFA Champions League!

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