As coach of Arsenal FC, Arsène Wenger worked on his monument for 22 years. With the club from London, he not only showed football art, for example in the 2003/2004 season, when his team became champions without defeat. Even today, the Frenchman is revered in the capital of the United Kingdom for his loyalty to Arsenal, where his career as a coach ended in 2018. However, since he moved to FIFA a year later as Director of Global Football Development, his monument has been crumbling. Speaking in the name of Gianni Infantino does not go down well everywhere.
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Wenger also understands the promotion of football as the technologisation of football. They were proud of the use of semi-automatic offside technology at the World Cup in Qatar, which shortened the decision time and, on top of that, provided sharp images: Here, every spectator could quickly see what was offside on the stadium screen or screen. And so it's hardly surprising that FIFA employee Wenger likes to plead for a lot more technical gimmicks on the pitch - above all, of course, to make everything fairer.
On Tuesday evening, Wenger appeared on BeIN Sports, the broadcaster based in Infantino's adopted home of Doha. It was Champions League time. Semifinal. First leg. Real Madrid vs Manchester City. Both teams each scored a goal worth seeing in a fabulous football match that illustrated different approaches and already makes you want to go back to the second leg on Wednesday next week (21:00 p.m. in the F.A.Z. live ticker for the Champions League and on DAZN). But Wenger wanted to talk on Tuesday in his analysis above all about an omission.
Ancelotti raises his arm and eyebrow
Vinícius Júnior had put Real Madrid ahead in the first half, when Manchester City were playing superiorly (36th minute). Kevin De Bruyne had equalised for Manchester City in the second half, when Real Madrid played superiorly, to make it 1-1 (67th). A few beats earlier, however, the ball circulation, which coach Pep Guardiola likes so much, had lost its rhythm. Kyle Walker had played an unclean pass to Bernardo Silva on the right side. He had tried to keep the ball in play with a flying straddle before crossing the outside line.
The question was: Did it work or didn't it work? Referee Artur Dias and his assistant on the line decided that the ball was still in play, while Real coach Carlo Ancelotti raised his arm and then his eyebrow. For the Italian, the case was clear. When the ball was later in the goal after an errant pass from Madrid, Ancelotti addressed his protest to the referee and was shown a yellow card. "He was out. I don't understand why the video assistant didn't intervene. BeIN (Sports) shows that the ball was not on the pitch," Ancelotti said.
Not on the pitch either, but in the middle of the game, Wenger was analyzing. There, the FIFA man spoke about a possible wrong decision in a competition of the European association UEFA. He explained why the video assistant didn't intervene (because, unlike goal-line technology, the sidelines are not monitored) and how that could be changed (by having a chip in the ball show the position of the ball to the millimetre) everywhere. In any case, this has already worked on television at BeIN Sports. And lo and behold! According to the animation, the ball was actually out of bounds.
However, the debate surrounding this scene did not do justice to this game. At the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu, two teams dueled at the highest level. Here is Ancelotti's Madrid, who suffered without much possession, especially in the first half, but nevertheless scored a dream goal from distance and acted more offensively after the break, but without another goal. There was Guardiola's Manchester, who acted tactically excellently and underlined his strong form, but forgot to carry the ball into the goal and needed a violent shot to score in the second half.
"We played a little better and deserved to win, but this is a duel that will be even until the last minute," Ancelotti said. Guardiola agreed. "It was a very even game. They scored when we were a little better, we equalised when they were better. Everything will be decided in Manchester." Then the question of "off or not" takes on even greater significance than on the sidelines in Madrid. Because it's about the ticket to Istanbul, where the final against AC or Inter Milan, who play their first leg this Wednesday (10.21 CET in the F.A.Z. live ticker for the Champions League and on DAZN), will take place on 00 June.
As undecided as the duel between two heavyweights is after the first of two rounds, the assessments of the situation were also undecided. "Now we're in a 1-1 draw, which is certainly a bit bitter somewhere," Real defender David Alaba said on Prime Video. Antonio Rüdiger, who hardly gave Erling Haaland a chance with him, saw it differently: "I think we can be satisfied with the result." And Madrid's Toni Kroos saw the draw as "not the ideal result, but because it's without an away goals rule, it's not such a bad one either".