Chelsea's Thomas Tuchel Says Referee Didn't Have 'Courage' in Real Madrid Clash

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVApril 13, 2022

MADRID, SPAIN - APRIL 12: Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel (L) argues with referee Szymon Marciniak after the UEFA Champions League quarter final second leg soccer match between Real Madrid and Chelsea at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, in Madrid, Spain, 12 April 2022. (Photo by Burak Akbulut/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Burak Akbulut/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Chelsea won its second-leg matchup with Real Madrid in the Champions League quarterfinals on Tuesday, 3-2, but lost the matchup in aggregate (5-4). 

One of the key moments in the game was Marcos Alonso's disallowed goal after VAR ruled a handball on the play, and after the match Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel told reporters he felt that referee Szymon Marciniak—who chose against reviewing the play pitchside—lacked "courage" in the game.  

CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ @CBSSportsGolazo

MARCOS ALONSO. AGAINST HIS FORMER CLUB. BUT IT'S RULED OUT. 😱 <a href="https://t.co/OBYIn1FBTC">pic.twitter.com/OBYIn1FBTC</a>

"If you play against Real Madrid, you can maybe not expect that everybody has the courage. I felt little decisions also in the first leg and the second leg today as well [went against us]. I did not see the goal, but I told him I'm super disappointed that he does not come out and check it on his own.
"In a match like this where you have a certain line to whistle, you should stay the boss and not give decisions like this to somebody in a chair who is isolated from the atmosphere and from the way. The referee has a certain style, things he allows and doesn't allow, he follows a certain line so I think he should stay in charge and check it on his own, then he could also explain it better.

By the letter of the law VAR got the call right, though it still divided opinion:

Maximiliano Bretos @MaxBretosSports

I do like the attacking player VAR hand ball rule. No grey area.

Conn @ConnCFC

This handball rule needs to be changed. Anyone with a pair of eyes can see Alonso’s goal should’ve stood. Is what it is I guess.

Granted, Chelsea also benefited from a refereeing gaffe earlier in the game on Toni Rudiger's headed goal. That corner should have never occurred—Real Madrid should have instead been awarded a goal kick:

CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ @CBSSportsGolazo

The reigning champs are back in it. 💥 <a href="https://t.co/EqUete5beC">pic.twitter.com/EqUete5beC</a>

The Blues were also in the driver's seat in the game, taking a 3-0 lead with just 15 minutes left that also gave them a 4-3 advantage in aggregate. The Champions League holders were in prime position to advance to the semifinals. 

But Rodrygo's goal in the 80th minute and Karim Benzema's game-winning header in extra time ended Chelsea's UCL campaign:

CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ @CBSSportsGolazo

THE CROSS FROM MORDIC. <br><br>THE FINISH FROM RODRYGO.<br><br>FOOTBALL. 😍 <a href="https://t.co/MCqD129Twp">pic.twitter.com/MCqD129Twp</a>

CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ @CBSSportsGolazo

IT HAD TO BE HIM! <br><br>KARIM BENEZEMA, ANOTHER HEADER! 💥 <a href="https://t.co/mqkhLTjCpi">pic.twitter.com/mqkhLTjCpi</a>

"We were unlucky," Tuchel told reporters. "We got beaten by pure individual quality, of conversion, on our mistakes. Two mistakes. That you can't have against Real Madrid. We were unlucky. We deserved to go through."

The painful nature of the loss likely exasperated Tuchel's feelings toward Marciniak. He was also aggrieved after seeing the referee "laughing loud" with Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti after the match. 

"I think this is the very, very wrong time to do this after the final whistle, after 126 minutes with one team giving their heart and fighting to the very last drop," he said. "To go as a coach and see the referee laughing and smiling with the other coach I think is very, very bad timing and I told him this. That was it."