As you may be aware, Juventus saw their Champions League voyage brought to a shuddering halt in the most dramatic of circumstances on a fateful Wednesday evening at the Bernabeu.
After losing 3-0 to Real Madrid at home in the first tie, Juve fought their way back to parity on enemy soil in a thrilling second leg – only to see it all dashed by a 93rd-minute penalty call.
Referee Michael Oliver upset the Old Lady’s apple cart by signalling for the spot-kick when Mehdi Benatia nudged Lucas Vasquez to the ground in front of goal, before sending Gianluigi Buffon off for his inflamed reaction.
While Buffon stopped short of physically assaulting Oliver, the riled goalkeeper let loose a barrage of finger-prodding rhetoric as the Juve players swarmed the referee in protest.
Ultimately, on what is likely to be his last ever appearance in the competition, the 40-year-old’s (understandable) failure to reign in his ire saw his Champions League career end with a straight red card.
After the final whistle, Buffon’s carefully-curated ‘elder statesman’ aura was allowed to slip further as the irate Juve captain embarked upon a sensational rant in which he branded Oliver a “garbage can” of a referee.
It was a tenth of a penalty. I know the referee saw what he saw, but it was certainly a dubious incident. Not clear-cut. And a dubious incident at the 93rd minute when we had a clear penalty denied in the first leg, you cannot award that at this point.
The team gave its all, but a human being cannot destroy dreams like that at the end of an extraordinary comeback on a dubious situation.
Clearly you cannot have a heart in your chest, but a garbage bin.
On top of that, if you don’t have the character to walk on a pitch like this in a stadium like this, you can sit in the stands with your wife, your kids, drinking your Sprite and eating chips.
You cannot ruin the dreams of a team.
While it’s clear he probably shouldn’t have done what he did, Pies can hardly admonish a man caught up in the most extreme of sporting maelstroms. Oliver arguably made the right call(s); Buffon’s reaction was merely human – that’s about the length and breadth of it.
Thankfully, the veteran stopper had calmed down sufficiently by the time he bumped into Cristiano Ronaldo in the mixed zone after final whistle, with the pair sharing a tender hug…
— SpazioJ (@Spazio_J) April 11, 2018
And all is well in the world again.