The more I watch Barcelona play, the more it becomes obvious how obsessed UEFA are with their most talented club.
Barcelona defeated AC Milan 3-2 on Wednesday at the San Siro through an own goal by Mark Van Bommel, a penalty by Lionel Messi and a talented finish by Xavi Hernandez.
One of the commentators on Fox Soccer Channel called the referee, Wolfgang Stark, "charitable" for not booking Milan more than the four times that he did.
Charitable to Milan? No sir, I'm not entirely blaming the referee, but the blatant support for Barcelona was absolutely disgraceful.
What is the deal with UEFA? It's a regular occurrence to see them handed the upper hand by the officials throughout European competition. Do I even need to remind everyone about how absolutely disgraceful the second leg of the semifinal in 2009 was? Great for Andres Iniesta putting that winner in at Stamford Bridge, but Chelsea were robbed of penalty kicks on multiple occasions.
Speaking of penalties, it seems like the penalty handed to Barcelona in the first half was a bit soft. Alberto Aquilani did not pull as hard as Stark seemed to think he did. He was aided by that classic Barcelona acting routine.
The flop resulted in a penalty. Messi stepped up, stopped and scored, and when he had to retake it (for whatever reason you get rewarded with a retake when you do something illegal), he scored again.
Minutes later, Seydou Keita got away with murder as he took Robinho down from behind in the Milan box. What should have been a penalty was waved off, but moments later Milan got a free kick just outside the box. That was a theme from Stark. He called everything on the fringe of the box, but anything that happened in Milan's box, such as Robinho being brought down and at least two handballs, was watched and ignored.
As the game wore on, Barcelona began to dive more and more. How are we going to admire a club that has been placed on a pedestal for its excellence, yet is regularly a criminal of one of the worst offenses in the game? Diving is a sin in the world of football, and yet it is encouraged for referees to allow Barcelona to get away with it.
Barcelona are a talented team. If they are truly the best, they shouldn't need the help of the referees to win a match. Milan played extremely well today, but were unable to overcome the referee's love for the Blaugrana. It was the same for Chelsea in 2009. It was the same for Arsenal. Will the madness ever end?