Even SPORT, often described as an FC Barcelona ‘fanzine’, admitted that they had gotten off lucky – ‘Messi and VAR save a worrying Barça’, the headline to its match report.
“This Barça continues to leave very disturbing feelings,” wrote German Bona, addng that the fans “did not leave the Camp Nou happy” with what they had seen of a game won only when “VAR appeared”.
Approaching the 81st minute, Real Sociedad’s left back Nacho Monreal had just come close to scoring in a vital La Liga clash on Saturday. With the space allowed to him by Nelson Semedo on practically every counter, he had looked capable of bagging the winner in what had been up a nerve-wracking 0-0 tie for the 77,000+ Culers in attendance up to that point.
Then, as implied, the Video Assitant Referee decided that he had seen something minutes earlier and that play should be pulled back to the other end. Handballing in the box, Robin Le Normand became the villain of the afternoon and allowed Messi to become its hero by converting the consequential penalty kick which ‘keeper Alex Remiro had no chance with.
“We won thanks to VAR,” admitted coach Quique Setien postmatch. “I didn’t see [the penalty incident] from the bench, I was far away,” it was added, via MARCA.
Over at Mundo Deportivo, it was this morning pointed out by Javier Gascon that the 2019-20 edition of La Liga “has been characterized since it started last August” for handballs that appear to be “involuntary”.
As pertaining to FC Barcelona and their plight through a tumultuous campaign however, there was also a common feeling that they were owed one by the divisive technology and the officials that oversee it.
Owed one against Sociedad for a start.
In December, a thrilling 2-2 draw played out between these two outfits but could have ended with Barça taking home the points had VAR stepped in to call a ridiculous foul on Gerard Pique in the dying minutes that prevented him from heading home a certain decider.
Dubbed ‘The Classic Robbery’ by MD, this was a double entendre given that Barcelona and Madrid would meet in El Clasico just three days later, with the title race as tight as it continues to be almost a full three months since the 0-0 stalemate.
Naturally, in the Spanish capital, Messi’s gift yesterday has not been well received and could, if Betis beat Los Blancos in Seville, mean that Barça keep a two point cushion at the summit despite having been trounced 2-0 at the Bernabeu last Sunday evening.
VAR saving a “depressing Barça” according to El País, it was also written that they themselves are “no longer suffice, not even in the refuge of the Camp Nou” as they now “need techonology to sustain themselves in the league”, as relayed by Madrid-based Irish journalist Brendy Boyle.
“VAR rescued Barça” forming a headline title on the cover of AS, almost the exact same words donned its rival MARCA.
Real Madrid no stranger to their fair share of favourable, dodgy calls this season too, though, it remains to be seen how much they dictate the Spanish top flight’s final destination come May.