For the Dutch contribution at this Champions League evening we had to be at Anfield: captain Georginio Wijnaldum led Liverpool, referee Björn Kuipers led the match. Football scoop highlights the performance of the man from Oldenzaal: he was quite in control, even though his evening was not flawless.
Liverpool and Real Madrid start on Wednesday evening in part two of their quarter-final hatch, after De Koninklijke won 3-1 in his own house. Kuipers — four days before the Cup Final between Ajax and Vitesse — is sent to Anfield to lead this squatter in the right direction. Moreover, he can be in the spotlight for the European Championships: this month he will be told if he is allowed to go to a final tournament for the fifth time. It should be his last trick on the international stage, because Kuipers will stop whistling at international level after the European Championships.
The first half of Liverpool-Real Madrid is dominated by a rain of opportunity for the home team and a single outage of Real Madrid. Thibaut Courtois keeps his team on their feet and Karim Benzema hits the pole. Kuipers has little to do in numerical terms: he whistles ten times and hands out one yellow card to both teams. Still, he must be on his guard.
Key moments first half‘1: The tone is set directly by Milner, who pulls through hard on the ankle of Benzema. Kuipers continues to play and the surprised Frenchman stays behind on the grass.
Casemiro was just getting a little payback for what Milner himself did to Benzema earlier pic.twitter.com/t7ht1jpdyQ
— 🇨🇩🇸🇱 (@F1avs) April 14, 2021
‘8: After a corner for Liverpool, every Militão takes a few opponents and other players. Kuipers, however, gives advantage to the defending party: Real Madrid. “I have it all in the skies”, the leader gives birth to laughing.
’22: Andy Robertson secretly thinks to smuggle a corner, but Kuipers’ just ‘gives Real Madrid a goal kick. The Scottish left-back rests in the failure of his little plan and accepts the decision left.
‘23: Fabinho continues clumsy, but above all hard on compatriot Casemiro: Kuipers first gives advantage and then still free kick. Casemiro‘s up limping, but Fabinho gets off without a map.
‘24: Casemiro decides to take revenge one minute later and cuts down Milner before the dugout. The flame hits directly in the pan: the Liverpool bank is the devil, and the furious Robertson is the devil. Kuipers makes a quick contact with VAR Pol van Boekel and then hands out his only cards of the first half: Casemiro escapes with yellow, Robertson also disappears in the booklet.
’31: Sadio Mané and Militão collide in an air duel and Real Madrid gets a free kick. The two bickering, Kuipers let it happen.
‘35: That‘s awkward: Kuipers gets in the way of a pass by Marco Asensio and has to interrupt a promising attack by Real Madrid. The arbitrator on duty laughs like a peasant with a toothache and apologizes. For the few who do not know Asensio’s family history: he can do that in Dutch…
’45: Mané still goes down in the sixteen when it comes to rest. For a moment there is protest from Robertson and Milner, but that is quickly smothered in the bud: no penalty.
Conclusion at RustKuipers is a referee with authority, so much is clear. Sometimes players try to claim another throw, corner, or penalty — especially if they’re called Andy Robertson — but generally the leader‘s decisions are accepted without grumbling. At rest Kuipers gets a thumb from compatriot Wijnaldum and fellow captain Benzema will also come to neighbourhoods on the field.
However, a clear first half of Kuipers does not whistle: the arbitrator is involved in several debatable moments. In minute one, the tone is already set: Milner does not pull his leg back and hits Benzema full on his ankle. Kuipers, however, continues to play and Benzema remains amazed on the ground. All that allowed? , the vedette seems to radiate.
Furthermore, Kuipers is not busy, although it becomes very unfriendly halfway through the first half. Fabinho makes a rude offense on compatriot Casemiro, but Kuipers first gives advantage and decides not to draw cards.
He does that a little later: Casemiro can walk again and immediately takes revenge with a tough tackle on Milner. The Liverpool bank springs up, Robertson interferes with the disturbance and Kuipers still has to intervene: first wait for the judgement of colleague Van Boekel, then yellow for Casemiro and Robertson. There comesespecially the Brazilian well along. “This is a little more than yellow, isn’t it? Or not?” , concluded Sierd de Vos after reviewing the images.
Key moments second half’46: Theatre play of a Real Madrid defender after a corner, but Kuipers gives no shrinkage. The conscious defender also quickly gets up again.
‘47: Milner runs fast on the midfield, no one responds.
’51: Benzema gets grabbed by Nathaniel Phillips, again no one responds
‘56: Toni Kroos is held for a moment by the sidelines and looks amazed at the side, Kuipers lets it go again.
’58: Obstruction Phillips against Casemiro. Kuipers can’t ignore this and punishes this professional offense with the third — and last — yellow card of the competition.
’70: Nacho goes to the ground with a scream after a head-duel with Fabinho. Kuipers gives a free kick.
‘76: Alexander-Arnold goes to the ground in the sixteen meters. Kuipers waves it away, nobody protests.
Conclusion after second half Kuipers has to intervene once, but the second half continues to pass reasonably noiselessly. Perhaps it also has to do with the course of the competition, which has already fallen into a decisive fold. The well-organized, but weary-looking Real Madrid doesn‘t have to be so necessary and wants — with the intense Clásico still in its feet — to reach the end without any scraps. Liverpool doesn’t seem to really believe in a comeback anymore, after it‘s already missed so many opportunities.
In other words, Kuipers is not pushed to the limit by the stars of Liverpool and Real Madrid, especially in the lazy second half. Apart from those few moments in the opening phase, then. Is UEFA going to lift heavy on this? You’d say you didn‘t. Kuipers is an established name in the European referee Corps, a match can feel excellent and enjoy the respect of the biggest players, as it turns out Wednesday at Anfield. Only Neymar will never be his best friend, but he won’t be in the European Championships anyway.
If it‘s up to Khalid Boulahrouz, at least he’ll be there next summer. “This is enjoyment, isn‘t it?” , he was dropped at the Ziggo Sport studio, when he revisited Casemiro’s charge on Milner. If only the Kannibal in his time had a referee like Kuipers every week…
(Hein Nooijens/Football scoop)