Arjen Robben

For some reason people are still shocked by Arjen Robben diving, and then a bit more, and carrying on with it until he wins a penalty. Bayern Munich didn’t score on that spot kick he won the team (Thomas Muller missed), but the Dutch winger will be happy to concentrate all the hate and criticism towards him as long as it means he’s still on the winning side at the end of the 90 minutes.

It wasn’t Robben’s first dive in the match as well. He tried it two times earlier and wasn’t booked. In general it was some terrible officiating from Svein Oddvar Moen, who also helped Arsenal out by allowing the Lukas Podolski goal to stand despite his foul in the play. But for those who consume their football news and information through the English language and media, it seems there was nothing about this match but Robben diving.

Bayern Munich dominated and were the superior side for abotu 75% of the 180 minutes of the two legs, and that didn’t change in the second one as well. This isn’t the hungry, bulldozing team of last year, but the Guardiola version. Pass happy, and also happy with wearing down the opposition until an opening presents itself. Like Franck Ribery finally taking on Bacary Sagna with a dribble, which created the opening goal for Bastian Schweinsteiger.

Some might be bored with this Bayern side, feeling it doesn’t really match up with the fantastic team that won everything last year. Despite all the stats we’ve seen thrown at us about Bayern being just as dominant this season in every competition, it just feels like something is missing this year. Maybe it’s simply the Guardiola philosophy (although we’ve been seeing them score and rampaging in league matches, especially when conceding first), or maybe this is an inferior side to the one from last year.

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But one thing to remember: A simialr Bayern side lost 2-0 to a similar Arsenal side last season at the exact same stage. The panic and complacency from last year were replaced with caution and a lot more thinking. Bayern hardly allowed Arsenal to develop plays of their own, resorting to a few, mostly forgettable counter attacks.

Diving is close to a disease in football. Referees are afraid to caution and even send off players for this blatant cheating and UEFA/FAs don’t do enough to discourage it, at least in some leagues. No matter how you look at it – it mostly pays off to be a consistent diver, even if it costs you some love and damages your reputation. When Robben was doing it and Bayern weren’t winning, he was called a Loser. Now? He is just as hated, but fans, at least from his own team, the only ones he cares about, seem to be a bit more forgiving.

Image: Source