Explained: Why Bayern Munich said their Champions League semifinal loss to Real Madrid ended in a ‘betrayal’

After Madrid scored two late goals to cancel Bayern's lead across the two ties, Matthijs de Ligt found the target for Bayern in the 103rd minute but was quickly denied by the linesman, who raised his flag for offside.

Thomas Tuchel couldn’t contain his emotions after his side’s narrow and late loss to Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu in the Champions League semifinal on Wednesday.

“There was a disastrous decision from the linesman and the referee,” Tuchel told TNT Sports. “It feels like a betrayal in the end. There was a huge fight, we left everything on the pitch and we were almost there. Now we say congratulations to Real Madrid.”

What happened?

The Bayern manager was referring to a late strike from Matthijs de Ligt in the 103rd minute – a possible equaliser for the Germans – which was quickly denied by the linesman as offside.

However, as the broadcasters showed a replay of De Ligt’s run towards the goal, it looked like the Dutch defender wasn’t ahead of Madrid’s last line of defence. But since the referee had stopped the game with his whistle following the linesman’s decision, VAR was unable to intervene and the goal was not allowed to stand.

Former Manchester United midfielder Paul Scholes would suggest that the sideline official had raised his flag too early. “I’m not sure it’s offside. For the linesman to put his flag up… he’s too hasty. He’s got to wait,” Scholes would suggest on TNT Sports.

What did the linesman say?

After the game, De Ligt conceded that Poland’s Szymon Marciniak, the linesman who deemed his run for the stoppage time goal as offside, had apologized to him after the game.

“The linesman said to me I’m sorry, I made a mistake, I can’t buy anything for that. I’m not the type of person who wants to blame a loss or win on the referee but it means you have to win because you win 2-1. I think if it’s a rule, it’s a rule,” De Ligt told beIN Sports.

The Bayern centre-back added, “I don’t want to say that Real Madrid always has the referees with them but that made the difference today.”

Bayern manager Tuchel also lashed out on the decision. “The linesman said sorry but that does not help,” the German said. “He raised his flag straight away; to raise your flag in a situation like this, you have to be very, very sure it’s offside. To have the guts, the balls, to raise the flag like this is a huge, huge call, and it is the wrong call. We got the shot away within five seconds [of the flag] and the referee has the chance not to whistle, but he whistles. It is against every rule.”

What is the rule?

As UEFA explained last year following a course for European assistant referees in Rome: “When the VAR system is in place for a match, assistant referees are being advised not to raise the flag if in doubt about a potential offside situation.”

“We need the assistant referees to show their traditional abilities from the past. Accuracy, precision in offside evaluation. But timing is now an essential element of the job – they must know when to raise the flag,” UEFA’s chief refereeing officer Roberto Rosetti had said.

“If they raise the flag at the wrong moment, problems can arise as far as the final decision is concerned. We’ve worked hard on the ‘flag delay’ concept at the course,” he added.

Madrid’s rebuttal 

Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti wasn’t reticent in giving it back to his former club.

“If they can complain about that we can complain about the goal Nacho had disallowed….because Joshua Kimmich had dived,” he said, referring to a referral by the video assistant referee that ruled out an almost immediate equaliser for Madrid in regulation time after Bayern had taken the lead, for a push.

 

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