Saturday, March 11, 2023

Support Lineker

 Former football star and BBC pundit Gary Lineker is in trouble. He is in trouble for being a critical and intelligent person, who says his opinion on a (democratic) government's foul and discriminatory policies. After publishing a comment on Twitter criticising the British government's asylum policy, he has been suspended from the BBC, the public broadcaster of a democratic European country.

Mr. Lineker has every right to express his opinion in a public forum as Twitter. His comments were not discriminatory, foul or objectively wrong (although they were extremely harsh), so that he should get suspended from his job seems like the overreach about expressing opinions that we are seeing all over. Although we all have a duty to be careful about how we express our opinions, we are on a dangerous slide if all opinions are subject to the potential repercussions of losing your job.

Mr. Lineker deserves all support he can get.

Thursday, March 09, 2023

The PSG stars are out again

 Paris St. Germain are a team of superstars, but as everyone knows you cannot construct a team just by superstars, and the Parisians were up against the wall as they faced Bayern Munich in Munich. And Bayern Munich are certainly also a team of superstars, but who to a much greater degree play like a team, and with tactical discipline and intelligence closed down the great potential threats posed by Messi and Mbappé.

PSG had their chances in the first half, and should have been ahead had it not been for a spectacular goalline clearance by Matthijs de Ligt. 0-0 at halftime, PSG still had hope, but Bayern Munich were far superior in the second half, with Eric Choupo-Moting bringing the Germans ahead after a clumsy mistake by Marco Verratti. And as PSG put everything forward, Serge Gnabry elegantly brought Bayern ahead 2-0 in the last minute of the match, and PSG's stars are again out.

This will surely cost Christophe Galtier his job, but the problem goes much deeper that the manager. You need to build a team!

Wednesday, March 08, 2023

VAR overreach

The last-16 Champions League match between Chelsea and Borussia Dortmund was rightfully a highly expected affair, and it was indeed a great match until the VAR intervened. Chelsea went ahead, and equalized the tie, on a somewhat lucky but skillful strike by Raheem Sterling, but at the same time Dortmund were playing a great match that could go to either side.

But for 2-0 for Chelsea I think VAR overreached. Indeed, VAR was generally correct, and it was also correct when the handball inside the area was awarded although it was what would be called a "harsh" call, that in many cases would not be called. But the overreached happened in the penalty kick when Kai Havertz kick on the post had to be retaken because of what was called "encroachment" into the box. Havertz scored in the new kick, and gave Chelsea the victory.

Not an undeserved result by itself, but the "encroachment" call was weird to say the least, because nothing happened that doesn't happen in every penalty kick at that level, and Havertz surely did not miss because of the so-called "encroachment". Instead, it seemed only like Havertz was given a new chance that would never have been given otherwise.

VAR is generally used well at this level, without (too many) ridiculous breaks, but in this case it seemed like total overreach, which was surely a pity for what was otherwise a great match,


Sunday, March 05, 2023

7-0 wow

 Since Erik ten Haag became Manchester United manager the team has done better, and they are currently third in the Premier League. Liverpool in the meantime is fighting to be in the top four. So today’s classic match between the two English giants was a spectacular match for Liverpool, who trashed their rivals 7-0 in what is their biggest victory over Manchester United ever.

It did not look like it would end like that after a tight first half where Liverpool was leading only 1-0 on a magnificent strike by Cody Gakpo. But in the second half goals poured in on de Gea: Darwin Núñez scored twice, Cody Gakpo also scored again, Roberto Firmino scored the last goal, while Mohammed Salah, with two goals, became Liverpool’s all-time Premier League goal scorer.

Liverpool are in fifth place, just behind Tottenham, but is looking like a CL candidate again. Manchester United remain third, but Erik ten Haag probably has some things to think about.