Bayern Munich secured the Bundesliga title for the tenth time in a row after an exhilarating fixture against Borussia Dortmund. The Allianz Arena was supercharged with energy as the two rivals kept the fight alive until the final ten minutes. Bayern found themselves on the better side of a couple of questionable calls from the referee — one of which being a penalty not given for Dortmund. Referee Daniel Siebert however, came out later and admitted that the penalty would have been the right call (kicker via Sport Bild).
Interestingly, both the calls involved Bayern’s right-back Benjamin Pavard. Having handed the Meister of the Match to Benji myself on the back of such risky situations, here are the two moments that could have seen things turn out in a different way.
The first being a tackle near the halfway line in the 48th minute. Joshua Kimmich’s pass bounced off of Coman. Julian Brandt who was nearby, pounced upon the loose ball and sprinted into the space behind Bayern’s last midfielder. Pavard was onto Brandt in a flash and dispossessed him with a sliding tackle.
To be honest, at that moment it did look like a clean tackle, judging by the direction and pace of the ball leaving the feet of the Dortmund attacker. However, the slow motion replay revealed an entirely different story altogether. Pavard made no contact with the ball whatsoever in that challenge. His heels up tackle met Brandt’s ankle with so much momentum, that it passed on straight through to the ball which was on the other side of Brandt's ankle. This sent the ball in the direction Benji’s foot was pointed to, making it seem clean. The referee later admitted that it deserved a booking of the Frenchman.
“That was the biggest mistake in this game and about my evaluation of this play I am very angry,” said the referee Daniel Siebert. “I’m glad that Brandt was able to continue playing and apparently didn’t suffer any serious injury.”
The second call however was a penalty decision that possibly did decide the result of the game. Pavard, once again was involved in a challenge, this time in the penalty box. Benji dispossessed Jude Bellingham in the 59th minute in what looked like a potential foul in the Bayern box. It was however, checked by VAR and not given.
Pavard first made contact with Jude that brought the Dortmund youngster down, following which Benji cleared the ball away. This decision was one where it definitely felt like Bayern got away with a questionable call, that fell in their favour. Personally, I thought Dortmund deserved a penalty there. Many of the fans on the live blog too felt the same with a few exceptions.
The referee himself had this to say: “Pavard did not play the ball, his leg was an obstacle in Bellingham’s path. Therefore it was a foul. The fact that Pavard touched the ball shortly afterwards is irrelevant. A penalty kick would have been the right decision. On the pitch, Pavard covered my view during the decisive contact. As a referee, I can’t give a penalty based on suspicion, but only if I clearly perceive a foul. Otherwise, if in doubt, I let the play continue.”
So, that’s that. Yes, it was a questionable call. Yes, it could have changed the result, seeing the momentum Dortmund would have gained from that equalizer. Would it have changed the Bundesliga title result ? Not likely. But, did that part matter so much in this particular fixture ? Definitely not. The fans and players came for the Der Klassiker special — the energy, the rivalry and the drama. Some controversial refereeing mistakes such as these do suck the joy out for one side more than the other, especially since the Bundesliga has always had great refereeing.
Since I, myself had picked Pavard for the MOTM, I think a little word from my side is necessary post the referee’s confession. Had the referee given that penalty, I would not have picked Benji for MOTM, but would have undoubtedly included him in the awards section. The defence were truly fantastic yesterday and Pavard’s contribution to that was significant. He was clever, in their faces and did get away with more “successful” tackles than he should have. Lucky calls from the ref surely, but definitely not an undeserved award.
Let us know how you feel post the referee’s statements, and BVB fans, take some steam out if you have to in the comment section. Thank you for reading.