Real Madrid 1-1 Chelsea: Catalan media make controversial claim about UCL officials

Karim Benzema celebrates Real Madrid goal vs Chelsea in Champions League semi-final

Real Madrid and Chelsea played out a thoroughly engrossing 1-1 draw in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final clash on Tuesday evening. 

The fallout from the failed European Super League provided a distracting backdrop ahead of the highly anticipated tie between two of the continent's in-form sides, but fortunately the game provided enough entertainment to put that narrative on the backburner for now. 

There were plenty of sub plots taking place on the sodden Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano pitch, with Mason Mount shining on the elite stage and a certain road-running midfielder proving that 70% of the world is water and the rest is covered by N'Golo Kante. 

The lashing rain created an almost monsoon-like atmosphere during the first-half, and naturally the conditions resulted in a handful of sliding challenges last seen in the early nineties.

It was a difficult evening to referee a game of such magnitude, but Danny Makkelie appeared firmly in control and kept a firm lid on proceedings with his level-headed approach.

Referees rarely draw strong praise from journalists in the media, but The Times' Chief Football Writer Henry Winter lauded Makkelie's performance in the aftermath of proceedings. 

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However, the admiration for the Dutch referee certainly wasn't shared by Catalan media outlet Sport.

In an article titled 'The referee helped Madrid in the UCL draw with Chelsea', Sport claimed that Makkelie had favoured Los Blancos during the game. 

There is, of course, a backstory to consider here. 

In the pre-match build-up, it was suggested that officials could be biased against the Spanish giants due to their role as chief architects of the breakaway Super League, but Zinedine Zidane and Raphael Varane both played down those suggestions. 

Sport, though, feel that the referee went the other way in a subconscious bid to avoid such a narrative from gaining credibility. 

They cite the fact that Casemiro committed a foul in the build-up to Karim Benzema's venomous equaliser as one of the core reasons to justify their line of argument. 

Danny Makkelie refereeing Real Madrid vs Chelsea

The report also laments that heavy challenges from Zidane's players went unpunished, Ben Chilwell was denied a clear penalty, and a cynical challenge from Marcelo on Pulisic only earned the Brazilian a yellow card. 

It's intriguing to see a referee's motivation and bias being so openly discussed by a major news outlet. 

On this evidence, it seems obvious that Sport are largely pro-Barcelona.

Aside from fan theories, Premier League referees generally escape such scrutiny and, with the exception of Mike Dean, aren't openly discussed at much length by the mainstream media.

This bold critique of Makkelie is one of the more unexpected consequences of the demise of the Super League. 

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