Michał Białoński: Do you feel a note of satisfaction due to the fact that Szymon Marciniak is one of the few referees who, in addition to the World Cup final, officiated the Champions League final in the same season? At the beginning of his first term as president of the Polish Football Association, you promoted our best referee in world football salons.
Zbigniew Boniek, UEFA vice-president: I’ve never had to promote anyone. However, we did a gigantic job at that time when it comes to improving the image of Polish football, we also improved the work and its reception of Polish referees. Our referees underwent a thorough transformation in terms of preparation, physicality, appearance, etc. Szymon Marciniak was our top referee, but I remember Szymon, who was insulted at our stadiums a few years ago. They shouted “Simon, what? You…” and similar indiscriminate statements. Marciniak took a step forward. I think it has changed incredibly. He has gained full experience, he is in the prime of life. Something similar happened to him, what happens to footballers who reach the apogee of their form. A referee, like a footballer, has to work a lot of matches to gain experience. The change that Szymon has recently undergone has definitely benefited him. He was always talented.
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I must say that Marciniak took advantage of the opportunity that was created for him in the last 18 months. When Szymona writes a book someday, it seems to me that this will be the most important chapter. Why did it happen, what was the reason for this change, etc.
In the Champions League, only the final between Manchester City and Inter remains to be played. This season of these elite competitions has been exciting and full of surprises. Since FC Barcelona, Sevilla FC and Juventus Turin did not make it out of the group, which lost the race not only to PSG, but also to Benfica, it was possible to talk about sensations!
The Champions League was wildly even and unpredictable, with big surprises. First of all, it showed that the difference between good and average teams has almost disappeared. Of course, there are still elite teams and this year they are Manchester City and Real Madrid.
However, in the decisive phase of the Champions League, Bayern Munich and Barcelona missed the most. Robert Lewandowski connects both in a way. Anyway, Bayern failed terribly, and not only in the Champions League. What he did in the Bundesliga is unbelievable. Not to win the German championship, which is about to happen, is an unbelievable thing! The Champions League has confirmed that it is a fantastic competition and crazy emotions.
Liverpool and PSG lost in the round of 16. Jurgen Klopp’s side are also in trouble in the Premier League, as they are currently in fifth place, which excludes them from the new season of the Champions League. Paris has made us accustomed to cheering expenses that don’t lead to a Champions League trophy.
As for PSG, Leo Messi has only played well at the World Cup in Qatar in the last two years. If a player of his caliber plays a lot of cards, and even saves himself a little, lacks the verve he used to impress before, then you can see the consequences at the club.
Overall, Paris Saint Germain has to have a vibe where the players feel like they are in a bubble, in an ideal world where everything is easy and fun. The ball is not like that. They have fantastic players in Paris and I am surprised that PSG cannot win the Champions League in any way, even though they came close two years ago. This year, he said goodbye to these games too soon.
Barcelona dropped out even faster, which is hard to say anything good about. They dropped from the Champions League to the Europa League, where they immediately got a bonkers, so at the European level, the season was a complete failure for them, although I think this team has crazy potential and that’s why I rate their season negatively. Yes, Barca deserve applause for the Spanish championship. However, the owners expected much more in European competitions. It is known that the lost revenues from the Champions League are impossible to make up for in the domestic backyard.
You were not surprised by the easy elimination in the quarter-finals of Bayern and Napoli, which in Serie A are a lot higher than Milan, but lost to them in the Champions League.
There is no shortage of individuality at Milan, but to be honest, of all the teams that have been knocked out of the Champions League, Napoli has the most reasons to cry. Why? First of all, in the first match, played in Milan, it played brilliantly for the first hour. They conceded a goal, they lost 0-1, but they never deserved to lose in their lives.
In the second leg, Napoli also did quite well, but it went counter and no one stopped Leao, and it could have been done even with a foul in the middle of the pitch. With Bayern it’s the opposite, because they failed all the way, while Naples played great in the group stage and then got lost.
Bayern sacking Julian Nagelsmann, who could have won three trophies this season, and replacing him with Thomas Tuchel is one of the strangest stories in world football.
It was something impossible! It’s hard for me to understand all this. There must have been a reason for this movement that we don’t know. You don’t change a coach who is present on all three fronts and fights very well, by the way, his team did not play badly at all.
Betting on Tuchel seemed to be a beneficial change in theory. At Chelsea, Tuchel did a great job as a fireman, he won the Champions League, but at Bayern his methods did not work. You could say that Bayern fought for three trophies with Nagelsmann and lost three trophies with Tuchel. The Bavarians are at a crossroads and they don’t really know what to do, and that’s the problem. When you lose too many trophies in football and mistrust arises in the locker room, it’s not easy to get out of this situation.
There are 18 days left until the grand final of the Champions League. Is there a shadow of a chance for Inter that Pep Guardiola’s machine will slow down by June 10?
I think the favorite in this match is very clear and bright. However, in football, unlike other team games, the role of the favorite is much more difficult, because the ball is much more unpredictable.
In basketball, about every 20 seconds, the ball is held by one team and the other, it must go to the basket and the points are added up. It’s the same in volleyball – points are added up. In handball, it’s similar, in addition to playing passively, they can take the ball away from you. Meanwhile in football, even if you are the favourite, anything can happen! You can have 20 corners, a similar number of free kicks, five 100% chances, one counter and you lose.
My opinion is this: when I watched the Milan-Inter game, the only team that might have a slight chance of beating Manchester City is Inter. It seems to me that Inter are more suited to City, although it seems to me that beating Manchester City is not a surprise, it is an incredible thing, especially if all gears work well in Guardiola’s team and the game is going well for him. This is an extremely hard team to beat.
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