The first leg of the UEFA Champions League semi finals begin this afternoon – but not without a big of volcanic controversy.
Thousands of flights have been cancelled in the past week because of that thick cloud of ash hovering above Europe, including one that FC Barcelona was preparing to take to Italy ahead of their clash with Inter Milan. With air travel out of the picture, the Barca boys were forced to travel by bus – a 14-hour, 1,000-kilometer journey.
The team’s technical director is now crying foul – Txiki Begiristain says UEFA isn’t doing enough to help clubs that were affected by the ash situation.
ESPN reports Begiristain is upset that the European governing body “showed no flexibility” on the subject of postponing the game, saying (and this is one of the sweetest quotes you may ever read) “making a team travel by coach belongs to a bygone age.”
Begiristain says the home team gets the advantage out of this mess, but adds his players won’t be using the long trip as an excuse.
Either way, I’m sure it was a nice bus.
On the other side of the semi final picture sits an angry coach and another type of advantage being had, though this one has nothing to do with volcanic ash.
Bayern Munich coach Louis van Gaal is asking UEFA to let his club play its first leg against Lyon this weekend instead of this Wednesday, because the French Football Association gave Lyon a domestic postponement for this weekend.
Lyon was supposed to play Monaco next Saturday, but the game has been moved to May 12th.
The reason? To give them more time to prepare for the second leg next Tuesday.
An outraged van Gaal wants UEFA to force the French FA to reverse the decision, saying “UEFA has got to keep an eye on and regulate things like this.”
“If UEFA organize competitions, then they have got to ensure that the conditions are the same and that is no longer the case.”
Bayern will play Borussia Monchengladbach three days before their trip to France and that’s a date that definitely won’t be moved. ESPN says the Bundesliga is very strict when it comes to scheduling, even when it comes to the semi final of the Champions League.
Does van Gaal have a valid argument? Seems like it to me – that’s an unfair advantage to Lyon and UEFA shouldn’t be letting its member organizations play around the rules like that. The NY Times reported on Friday though that Bayern had decided not to protest the French FA’s decision. Still, that doesn’t stop UEFA from stepping in.
As for Barca, it sucks that they had to ride the bus, but I guess that’s life. At least none of them got food poisoning before the trip!