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Controversial penalty grabs the spotlight following Bayern’s 3-2 victory over Bremen

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Bayern Munich advanced to the DFB Pokal Final on the backs of a controversial penalty decision. Are Werder Bremen’s complaints warranted?

BREMEN, GERMANY - APRIL 24: Kingsley Coman of FC Bayern Muenchen and Theodor Gebre Selassie of SV Werder Bremen battle for the ball during the DFB Cup semi final match between Werder Bremen and FC Bayern Muenchen at Weserstadion on April 24, 2019 in Bremen, Germany.
BREMEN, GERMANY - APRIL 24: Kingsley Coman of FC Bayern Muenchen and Theodor Gebre Selassie of SV Werder Bremen battle for the ball during the DFB Cup semi final match between Werder Bremen and FC Bayern Muenchen at Weserstadion on April 24, 2019 in Bremen, Germany.
Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images

Despite a dominating 70 minutes of play, two goals in quick succession saw Werder Bremen primed to wrestle the game out of the grasp of Bayern Munich. Florian Kohfeldt’s side capitalized on some shambolic defending, coupled with an energetic press and clinical finishing to turn the game on its head.

The flash point of the match occurred just moments after the Bremen equalizer when match official Daniel Siebert awarded the Bavarian giants a penalty for Theodor Gebre Selassie’s challenge on Kingsley Coman. The winger raced towards the touchline and fell to the turf as Selassie leaned into the Frenchman. Die Grün-Weißen were visibly upset with the referee, surrounding the official in anger. Robert Lewandowski eventually slotted home the penalty, which proved the winner on the night.

The final whistle did not end the discussion, however, as representatives from both sides voiced their opinions on the decision, in addition to the video-assistant-referee (VAR). In a post match press conference (via Kicker), Werder Bremen Sporting Director Frank Baumann voiced his disagreement with the decision to award a penalty, asserting that there was only light contact between the two racing for the ball.

The former Werder Bremen midfielder went on to express his frustration with the decision not to consult VAR.

What I don’t understand though, is this: we now have the possibility of a video-assistant referee, and sometimes you perhaps don’t have to take something back immediately. But in such a game, the Pokal semifinal, the score 2-2, such a scene right before the end — then you have to use the opportunity to look at that from outside for a minute and a half.

Baumann even recalled Bremen’s 2016 semifinal ouster at the hands of Munich. Arturo Vidal won Bayern a [questionable] penalty late in the second half of the match, which helped the Bavarians finish off the game with a 2-0 victory.

A year and a half ago, we were knocked out in the Pokal semifinal in Munich because of a a clear dive. Back then, we still didn’t have VAR, now we do, but don’t use it. I can’t understand that, sorry.

Werder Bremen captain Max Kruse was equally upset with the decision not to consult VAR.

Sure he had his elbows out a little, but the opponent also naturally knows that he won’t get to the ball again. In the midfield, that’s not a foul. We have learned, after all, that VAR can’t intervene unless it’s one hundred percent (certain). Maybe it was an 80/20 decision — but then it is not taken back. Only the referee’s argumentation was something different.

The German forward couldn’t quite understand the officials decision not to be 100% certain, while his teammate Maximillian Eggestein bluntly asserted that it was the wrong decision, noting that the official explained that he saw contact “down below” the waist of Coman.

Bayern Manager Niko Kovac originally believed he saw Selassie make contact with Coman as the referee claimed.

From where I was standing, it looked as if Gebre Selassie touched King (Coman) behind on the heel.

After Kovac saw the video, he spotted a “small shove from behind.”

A push with the elbow was there. But whether that’s now a penalty, we can perhaps discuss that.

Although the Croatian manager is happy to accept the penalty, he is clearly hesitant to support the controversial decision outright considering the minimal contact that did occur.

Thomas Muller in a Captain’s fashion was rather bullish about the decision, though his claim to an unbiased lens is questionable.

I see it not only through the Bayern lens: Kingsley is past him, he [i.e. Selassie] is hot on his heels. The Bremen player says, “It’s not a penalty,” because he doesn’t want it to be true. But then he gives him a shove on the hip. I can understand that it’s discussed, when the outcome of such an exciting game is determined by a penalty. Gebre Selassie did a touch too much — in my view. It wasn’t very smart to push without a chance of getting the ball. That’s why it was a penalty for me.

It is safe to say that Florian Khofeldt’s squad feels hard done by what many believe was a soft penalty decision. With that being said, Bayern dominated for large portions of the match and emerged with what can be considered a deserved victory, in spite of the fashion in which it was won.

The Bavarian giants now await what should be a highly competitive clash with Timo Werner and RB Leipzig who defeated Hamburg on their way to the DFB Pokal Final. With five matches remaining, the Rekordmeister have it all to play for.