By Tim Stannard
Juventus involved in match-fixing allegations. Again
Wednesday showed how sport turns normally rational-thinking folk into flaming bags of hot air hoo-ha. And that’s why it’s fun.
The penalty-decision-seen-around-the-world divided viewers into two camps - the ‘he crashed into him, doesn’t matter what minute of the game’ posse to the ‘football is corrupt, period…Mamma mia!’.
The latter is certainly the take of much of Italy (and Barcelona fans) after the late drama from Wednesday’s Champions League quarter-final second leg clash which saw Real Madrid blow a 3-0 lead, win a late penalty and ended up with Gianluigi Buffon sent off for referee-rabble-rousing. And clearly the Juve keeper was less than impressed with a declaration that the official, Michael Oliver had “a bag of rubbish for a heart”. A lot to pack in.
Thursday’s Italian sports media has been fairly unforgiving with the front cover of Gazzetta dello Sport reporting the ‘Anger and Pride’ of the night while Corriere dello Sport channeled the cry of any tourist in Naples with ‘what a robbery!’
The news was even worse for Italy on Thursday with the FIFA rankings being published and Italy falling to 20th, the worst position in the country’s history, and below Tunisia, Peru and Denmark. Oh dear.
Tune into the XTRA at 7PM ET / 4PM PT to hear the thoughts of Kevin Egan and Matteo ‘Roma, not a chance!’ Bonetti on a wild, wild week.
Real Madrid breath sigh of relief after late let-off
The reaction in the Spanish capital on Thursday morning was of relief and defiance. ‘It was a penalty!’ declared Marca while AS noted that the night ran ‘from panic to the semifinals’ for Real Madrid.
The Barcelona media was less effusive with Sport declaring on their front page that the result was ‘the robbery of the century’ while Mundo Deportivo declared that Real Madrid were the masters of refereeing.’
💬 @Cristiano: "For the penalty, my heart was beating hard, but I tried to stay calm. I knew it would be a decisive penalty, thank God I scored and we went through." #APorLa13 pic.twitter.com/xniUvbJhli— Real Madrid C.F.🇺🇸🇬🇧 (@realmadriden) April 11, 2018
The semi-finals of the Champions League are set to be drawn on Friday morning, North America time, with Madrid facing either Liverpool, Roma or Bayern Munich – who also passed though to the final four, largely unnoticed. However, some of the shine has been taken off the dramatic victory with reports that Sergio Ramos might miss the first leg through suspension, having been rather active on the edge of the pitch and in the players’ tunnel during the latter stages of the Juve game. And that would be just fine, if it wasn’t for the fact that the Real Madrid captain was very suspended for that match as well.
Alien intervention needed in Europa League quarter-final clashes
Something rather spectacular is going to have to happen in the Europa League on Thursday to generate the same kind of mutually-assured global internet destruction of the past two days.
Salzburg overturning a 4-2 deficit against Lazio in Austria simply isn’t going to cut the mustard in terms of drama. Heck, a spaceship from the Sirius system landing in the middle of CSKA Moscow’s pitch and demanding a return of their leader, Cristiano Ronaldo, would barely do the job.
The game it would be interrupting though is Arsenal’s attempt to hold onto a handy 4-1 lead in Moscow and avoid pulling a PSG, or is it doing a Barca? Hard to keep up. The third match of the day is an intriguing affair between RB Leipzig and Marseille with the French side trying to overturn a narrow 1-0 deficit. The final match could see a bit of shock though, Sccccchporting CP are 2-0 down from the first leg against Atletico Madrid but are mad-as-hammers enough to have a good go at the Spanish visitors, despite possessing a defense like a salad spinner.
The good people of Canada can catch that game live on beIN SPORTS at 3PM ET / 12PM PT and tune into the XTRA at 7PM ET / 4PM PT for the best of the action from around Europe.
Rumble city as Red Sox and Yankees brawl at baseball
Maybe there was something in the water across the planet on Wednesday, as the madness spread across the Atlantic – not talking about he-who-must-not-be-named here – but the MLB clash between the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees which ended up in one of those fun mass brawls after a controversial two footed tackle and Tyler Austin taking exception to being smashed by the ball from a wayward pitch. "Once I got hit, it was going to happen," said the Yankees hitter.
The NBA regular season wrapped up – less brawls, and the remaining play-off place went to the Minnesota Timberwolves who defeated the Denver Nuggets in overtime in a head-to-head contest for the final spot.
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The life philosophy of Sports Burst is that if you are not upsetting someone, then you are not trying hard enough. Sports Burst is a daily trawl and troll through the morning's sports news to bring you fact-nuggets to make you both smile and swear. Hopefully at the same time.