Remarkably, there are still people who don’t like the vanishing spray – the product commonly used by officials throughout North and South America to mark off distance from a free kick. I encountered this attitude while watching a game two weeks ago (though the good “journalist” I am, I’ve already forgotten which one it was). In a voice almost too crotchety and archetypal to be sincere, the commentator waxed nostalgic about a time when players would just ‘get on with it’ themselves, perhaps not realizing the irony: Vanishing spray is so effective because players didn’t used to just get on with it themselves. Since it began being used in Major League Soccer a few years ago, the only controversies about wall distance are where the referee draws his line in the wrong spot (see Will Johnson, earlier this season).
Thankfully FIFA, for all their faults, seem unwilling to live in the 1960s when it comes to soccer technology, which is why we’ll have vanishing spray at next month’s Club World Cup.
From the world governing body’s release:
After a successful trial during the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Turkey in July 2013 and very good overall feedback from the participating referees in the FIFA U-17 World Cup United Arab Emirates 2013, FIFA has decided to use the vanishing spray during the FIFA Club World Cup in Morocco in December 2013 …
For FIFA Head of Refereeing Massimo Busacca the vanishing spray is an important tool for the referees. The feedback that he received from his match officials was largely positive, as Busacca explained. “A large majority of the officials considered the spray as a useful and helpful tool,” he said. “The spray has a clear preventive effect: The distance was always respected, so no yellow card for not respecting the distance had to be given throughout the two tournaments played so far. After the Club World Cup in Morocco further evaluations will be made. We will review the results and discuss if the spray will be used also in future FIFA competitions.”
Between the lines: If everything goes well in Morocco, we’ll probably see the spray at Brazil 2014. Grumbling pundits bemoaning the namby-pamby world we’ve created won’t like it, but there really is no reason not to use such an obviously beneficial solution.
Heading into the their final UEFA Champions League Group B game, Manchester United hold their destiny in their own hands, but any slip-up could mean it’s Europa League on Thursday nights for Louis Van Gaal‘s men.
[ MORE: Champions League standings ]
The Red Devils would have advanced to the knockout stage with a victory over third-place PSV Eindhoven on Wednesday, but slumped to an ugly 0-0 draw instead.
[ MORE: Three things we learned from Man United 0-0 PSV ]
So, here’s all of the scenarios for the final matchday of the group stage, away to Wolfsburg, in which United would advance to the round of 16 advance:
- A Man United win will see Man United finish top of Group B
- A Man United draw, coupled with a PSV draw or loss (vs. CSKA Moscow), will see Man United finish second in Group B
- A Man United draw, coupled with a PSV victory, will see Man United finish third in Group B
- A Man United loss, coupled with a PSV loss, will see Man United finish second in Group B
- A Man United loss by more than one goal, coupled with a PSV draw, would see Man United finish third in Group B
- A Man United loss, coupled with a PSV win, would see Man United finish third in Group B
[ MORE: Champions League schedule ]
There are your scenarios for Man United as it’s pretty simple to break it down: Win, and they go through. Fail to win, and their fate is completely in the hands of PSV.
The Foxes are top of the Premier League and are led by a surging Jamie Vardy but how long can they keep shocking the world?
With six tough games coming up between now and the start of 2016, Claudio Ranieri‘s men will be pushed to their limit but so far this season they’ve been sensational and Vardy has equaled Manchester United legend Ruud van Nistlerooy’s record of scoring in 10-straight PL games.
[ MORE: Full PST Extra archive ]
Can he make it 11 in a row on Saturday (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via Live Extra) when United visit the King Power Stadium? As for the Red Devils, they sit in second place and are just one point behind the flying Foxes’. Louis Van Gaal‘s men have certainly flown under the radar so far and our churning out wins at an impressive rate.
Jenna Corrado and I discuss that and more in the latest edition of PST Extra. Click play on the video above to see our chat in full.
Rog and Davo revel in another chapter of the Leicester City fairytale, break down Liverpool’s shock dismantling of Manchester City and discuss Arsenal’s slip against West Brom.
Listen to the latest pod by clicking play below.
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Joe Hart was forced to leave Manchester City’s 1-0 defeat to Juventus in UEFA Champions League play on Wednesday due to a hamstring injury, which he seemed to incur while making a spectacular one-on-one kick-save late in the second half.
[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]
Man City manager Manuel Pellegrini confirmed after the game that Hart’s injury is indeed a hamstring issue, and went on to say that he would need further tests once the team arrives back in Manchester to determine the severity and how long, if at all, City and England’s no. 1 would be out of action.
Man City, currently third in the Premier League on 26 points, will host eighth-place Southampton at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday (Watch live at 10 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via Live Extra).