“Collina’s heirs” tip their hats: At the very end, nobody complains about the referees

“Collina’s heirs” tip their hats
At the very end nobody complains about the referees

By Alex Feuerherdt

On the last day of the game in the first and second Bundesliga, the referees and their VARs show strong performances, even in the most explosive encounters. Not a single decision is the focus. Two shooting stars of the season are particularly convincing.

The referees and also the video assistants in the first and second Bundesliga should have breathed a sigh of relief last weekend. There were recently excited public discussions about the lack of VAR interventions, penalties not given and the proposal to use former professional footballers in the Cologne video center, so the referees now brought the last day of the game in the two highest German divisions to the stage without much afterwards debated about them and their decisions. And the absence of criticism is definitely a form of praise for referees.

This was certainly helped by the fact that the referees and VAR had relatively few tricky situations to assess. Two of them happened in the match between Borussia Dortmund and Hertha BSC (2:1), after which the Berliners slipped to the relegation place. Fifteen minutes into the game, Ishak Belfodil broke into the hosts’ penalty area on the right-hand side of the attack and hooked around his opponent Dan-Axel Zagadou. As a result, the Dortmund defender went into reverse motion and, trying unsuccessfully to reach the ball, caught Belfodil’s lower left leg with his right foot. The Herthaner went down.

Referee Tobias Stieler whistled and awarded a penalty, but almost at the same time his assistant raised the flag to signal that Belfodil had been offside when he passed the ball. The referee then withdrew his decision to take a penalty, but that was not the end of it. Because video assistant Benjamin Brand found out when reviewing the scene that Belfodil had not been offside. Thus, Stieler could have returned to his original decision to award the Berliners a penalty without an on-field review. But he decided to watch the scene again on the monitor himself.

Stieler’s penalty decisions are strict but justifiable

That made sense for reasons of transparency and clarity in this game, which was so important for Hertha, after all, some people could have lost their perspective with the sequence “penalty kick – no penalty kick, but offside – but no offside, but penalty kick”. Giving the penalty, which Belfodil converted himself to make it 0-1, was at least a reasonable decision. The hit on Belfodil’s lower leg wasn’t overly violent, but it was a clear impulse against the supporting leg. In any case, it was understandable that Tobias Stieler assessed this as the reason why the Berliner fell when throwing a hook, especially since his duel evaluation in this game was generally rather strict.

After 65 minutes, BVB also received a penalty. This was preceded by a handball by Hertha’s defender Marvin Plattenhardt in his own penalty area after a free kick for the hosts and the subsequent deflection of the ball by Berlin’s Santiago Ascacíbar with an upper arm. Referee Stieler probably didn’t even notice Plattenhardt’s ball contact with his forearm, but there was another on-field review. The second penalty decision that followed also falls into the “hard, but justifiable” category: the ball certainly came as a surprise to Plattenhardt from close range from his teammate Ascacíbar, but the Hertha player had previously spread his arm a little from his body and thus died Hit area increased.

Schröder and Jablonski: convincing shooting stars

The intense and ultimately dramatic encounter between VfB Stuttgart and 1. FC Köln (2-1) brought referee Robert Schröder, who had not been entrusted with refereeing a potentially explosive game for the first time this season, confidently through the rounds and kept track even in the turbulent final phase. The – missed – penalty for VfB in the eleventh minute after Luca Kilian fouled Tiago Tomas was fully justified. Whether Saša Kalajdžić had illegally used his left arm against Timo Hübers when he scored a header after the following corner kick to make it 1-0 could not be clarified beyond doubt with the television pictures. In any case, a striking movement against the Cologne defender could not be identified.

Sven Jablonski – like Schröder one of those referees who were used again and again this season in games that were more in focus – convinced in the game Bayer Leverkusen – SC Freiburg (2: 1). With the yellow card for Maximilian Eggestein from Freiburg after his – not too intense – hit with the sole on the Achilles tendon and the ankle of Moussa Diaby, he set a clear limit after just two minutes. Fifteen minutes later, when Diaby stepped on Eggestein’s knee with his cleats in a jump, so to speak, retaliated and was also warned, a dismissal could have been considered. But it was in line with Jablonski’s rather generous line in this game, which was so important for Freiburg, that he left it yellow, since there was room for discretion – and found acceptance for it.

Battle for promotion in league two: Brych, Aytekin and Zwayer sovereign

In the game between 1. FC Union Berlin and VfL Bochum (3:2), referee Marco Fritz also didn’t miss a beat. When Bochum’s Robert Tesche put his left arm in the path of the ball in his own penalty area after 23 minutes, the game initially continued. But after the justified intervention by VAR Pascal Müller and the following on-field review, Fritz finally gave the penalty that was due, which Taiwo Awoniyi converted to make it 2-0.

Meanwhile, Fritz’ colleague Martin Petersen also rightly annulled the supposed winning goal of 1. FSV Mainz 05 in the match against Eintracht Frankfurt (2:2) because of a handball by Jonathan Burkardt, Eintracht goalkeeper Kevin Trapp caught the ball when he failed to catch the squeezed upper arm. Since the ball went into the goal from Burkardt’s arm and an unintentional or even unavoidable handball by the goal scorer is punishable if it happens when the goal is scored or immediately before it, the goal was not allowed to count.

In the second Bundesliga, the referees also showed impeccable performances on the last day of the game, especially in the matches where promotion was at stake. Your sporting management had also sent some of the absolute top players: Felix Brych officiated in the game Hansa Rostock – Hamburger SV (2:3), Deniz Aytekin supervised the game of SV Darmstadt 98 against SC Paderborn 07 (3:0), and Felix Zwayer led the argument between Werder Bremen and Jahn Regensburg (2:0). All three completed their tasks silently and confidently. And that is very much worth mentioning.

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