Zidane questions video reviews after Madrid’s Club World Cup semifinal win

by Andrew McKirdy

Staff Writer

Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane voiced concern that FIFA’s new video review system “could cause confusion” after guiding his team to the Club World Cup final on Thursday.

World soccer’s governing body is trialing its Video Assistant Referees system at the ongoing tournament in Japan, which allows officials to consult with video replays for potentially game-changing incidents.

The system was called into action for the first time when a video assistant awarded Kashima Antlers a penalty during their 3-0 semifinal win over Colombia’s Atletico Nacional on Wednesday.

And video evidence again took center stage on Thursday when Paraguayan referee Enrique Caceres asked for confirmation before awarding Cristiano Ronaldo an injury-time goal in Madrid’s 2-0 win over Mexican side Club America.

“We need to get used to it if that’s FIFA’s policy,” said Zidane. “But if you want my personal impression, it could cause confusion. That’s my personal opinion.

“FIFA’s technical group will make a good decision, and we don’t have the power to decide so we need to get used to whatever is decided. I think it could be better because everything becomes very clear and transparent.”

Karim Benzema gave Madrid the lead with a goal in first-half injury time before newly crowned world player of the year Ronaldo added a second — the 500th of his Madrid career — in the 93rd minute.

But there was confusion among the 50,117 fans at Nissan Stadium when Caceres dallied over the decision, and Madrid midfielder Luka Modric was scathing in his assessment.

“It’s a new system and a new event, and I don’t like it very much,” said the Croatian, who was named man of the match.

“I think it can cause confusion and it hasn’t been explained to us in detail. I don’t like football with this kind of system. I just want to focus on the match and play my football. My first impression of it is not good.”

Madrid will now face Antlers in Sunday’s final, having stretched their club-record unbeaten streak to 36 matches despite failing to sparkle in their first game of the tournament.

“We wanted to get through to the final and we were able to achieve just that,” said Zidane, whose team arrived in Japan on Monday. “In the first half we weren’t able to get into our rhythm so it was a bit difficult, and the pitch was a little hard.

“But in the second half we played well, we created a lot of chances and Cristiano scored a goal. I’m very happy and I’m satisfied with the match.”

Antlers stunned South American champions Nacional on Wednesday to become the first Asian team to reach the Club World Cup final, but Zidane was not ready to turn his attention to Sunday’s opponent in the immediate aftermath of Thursday’s win.

“It’s a home game so I’m sure Antlers will do very well,” he said. “For us, first we need to recover from fatigue, and between now and Sunday we’ll take a good look at Antlers. Of course they are very motivated but so are we and we want to bring back the trophy.

“We do watch all the matches because there is a possibility we could play any of the teams. We need to analyze the game but we need to take a break. We only have a few days before Sunday so we want to rest before the game. We traveled a long distance and we are tired.”

Club America saw its hopes of becoming the first North and Central American team to reach the final dashed, despite holding eleven-time European champions Madrid to just one goal for 93 minutes.

“We were hoping we could get the score to 1-1, but it didn’t work out like that and we conceded a second goal,” said manager Ricardo La Volpe. “But I told my players that they did very well. I think we were better in defense, but Real Madrid is a very good team. Maybe if we could have managed to attack more, we would have had more of a chance.

“Tonight we had some good moments and some not-so-good moments. Maybe we just weren’t lucky enough.”