All in all, the match was fairly uneventful. It wasn’t until the middle of the second half that there was a shot on goal. While parts of the match were quite dreary, with long balls over the top a common occurrence, there are, of course, certain aspects to discuss.
VAR strikes again. Except for this time, it seemed the new technology was used correctly, although the decision that the referee made will be sure to generate quite the controversy. The call was certainly a debatable one with Sadio Mane streaking towards the Flamengo goal and seemingly being taken down by Rafinha inside the penalty area. Except it was up for debate about where Mane was taken down and whether it should have been a penalty or a free kick.
However, the absolutely bizarre decision from the referee live was when he determined that it was not a foul at all and gave Flamengo the ball. There was contact between Rafinha and Mane. When contact is made and the player being tackled loses their footing, it should be a foul.
Despite the fact that the call could be debated, it was one of the best examples of VAR being used in a live match setting. It was difficult to see where the foul occurred in a game-deciding challenge. Bravo to the Club World Cup crew for using VAR the best that I’ve seen it so far. The referee should have been given more angles to see the challenge and ensure that he was making the correct decision but at least it was better than the VAR refs just giving the ref advice over the headsets.
The majority of the match, outside of the VAR controversy, was truth be told fairly bland. Neither side could quite get a leg up on the other for the majority of the match and many of the chances were created from lucky bounces and defensive lapses in concentration. Attacking players were mostly stymied from being their true creative selves. Some of the difficulties in creating for the players can be attributed to travel to Qatar. Both clubs faced exhausting travels and had played in their semifinals just days prior. All of that exertion was sure to lead to some watered down play from the two squads.
The first Club World Cup in the team’s existence is sure to buoy the spirits of the Liverpool first team. It is their third cup of the year after winning the Champions League and Supercup earlier in the calendar. All in all, it was a great day to enjoy the wild ride that Jurgen Klopp and his men have put together so far.