In the round of 16, France will be up against Nigeria, whereas, Germany will lock horns with Algeria. In an exclusive chat with Aditi Tyagi of Zee Media, former Indian skipper Baichung said that France and Germany will have to face more of a physical challenge in their respective matches. He also felt that on-field referees are also human and can also commit mistakes.
Excerpts from the conversation:
Do you think the `beautiful game` is now becoming ugly?
I think to win a match, at times, players have now started crossing their line. They are trying to cheat basically by fooling the referees. But it`s not a good sign for football.
What`s your take on Arjen Robben`s `fooling strategy`, especially against Mexico?
In one or two cases, Robben`s plea for the penalty was right. And couple of times, he acted a bit, which was wrong. But here, I want to make a point that Mexican defenders were also at fault. There is no need for defenders to tackle near or around the penalty area, they should rather clear the ball.
Do you also feel referee too was a bit partial towards Netherlands?
I don`t think so. Yes, that penalty was undoubtedly quite harsh but if you see it from referee`s point of view, the same referee rejected the plea on the first two occasions but on third time, he gave it. But it`s part and parcel of the game. Referees are also human and they can also commit mistakes.
People around the globe are criticising Robben for his foul play?
If you make a habit to fool a referee, then these thing are bound to happen. He has a history of doing such things. I think, after seeing the rage at social media, by the end of this tournament, he might change his habit.
What`s your prediction on today`s first Round of 16 match between France and Nigeria?
So far, France have played impressive football. And even after missing out their star player Franck Ribéry due to injury, just before the World Cup, they have managed to reach this far. Karim Benzema is in good nick and has proved his worth so far. Their coach Didier Deschamps has worked really hard on this team, especially to make them united. As far as Nigeria are concerned, they play physical football. But at the same time, consistency is something that they lack. Undoubtedly, France are the favourites to win today`s tie against the African nation.
What are your expectations from the second match, which is between Germany and Algeria?
Like France, Germany are also playing like a unit. They always play like a team and rely more on that, rather than relying on individual brilliance. But Algeria have surprised many at this World Cup. They have already created history by reaching this far. So they have nothing to lose. They will play today`s match without any pressure. So it won`t be easy for Germany to beat them. And Algerians too play physical game and are known for hard tackles. Germany can`t take them lightly.