Tuesday, April 24th, 2012
With two teams packed full of household names, Turkish referee Cuneyt Cakir will be under huge scrutiny this evening as he takes charge of the Champions League semi-final second leg clash between Barcelona and Chelsea.
Already in the pre-match build-up there has been a fair bit of chatter about Didier Drogba’s diving antics in the first leg and how Cakir deals with the Ivorian striker will be an interesting sub plot.
There are also a host of players just one booking away from missing the Champions League final. The players on a tight rope are: Ashley Cole, Branislav Ivanovic, Raul Meireles, Ramires, Carles Puyol and Javier Mascherano.
Of course, Chelsea fans will be fearing a replay of the last time they met Barcelona in the second leg of a Champions League semi-final and will be praying Cakir doesn’t produce a Tom Henning Ovrebo performance.
Cakir is much more experienced than Ovrebo was and his weekly involvement in the volatile world of Turkish football should stand him in good stead for what is expected to be a highly charged night in the Nou Camp. He is one of 12 referees picked for Euro 2012 and is also nominated on the long list for World Cup 2014.
The Turkish official, an insurance man by trade, has been impressive in the Champions League so far this season, where he is yet to show a red card but did give Mario Balotelli his marching orders in a Europa League clash with Dynamo Kiev in 2010/2011.
That, however, has not stopped the conspiracy theorists. Cakir was chosen by Erzik Senes, vice-president of Uefa’s referees committee, who used to work for UNICEF, who of course sponsor Barcelona. There are even suggestions that Cakir owes his elevation to UEFA’s elite list to Senes.
Leaving such claims aside we like to concentrate on video evidence to make our minds up. There isn’t a great deal around besides a debatable penalty decision for Galatasaray at Fenerbahce in March.
Alanzinho was alleged to have handled in the box and Galatasaray bagged a late equaliser – video of the decision here.
Elsewhere there is little about, besides Cuneyt Cakir getting hit by a rather hefty shot. Let’s hope we aren’t talking about Cakir’s performance tomorrow.