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UEFA could sideline Aytekin
Editorial

UEFA could sideline Aytekin

Deniz Aytekin, the referee in charge of Barcelona's 6-1 win over Paris Saint-Germain, could be facing a spell on the sidelines as a result of his performance.

Pierluigi Collina is UEFA's head of refereeing and is responsible for assigning officials to the various fixtures in the Champions League and Europa League alongside his team of collaborators.

Collina will decide what lies ahead for Aytekin although MARCA understands that his prospects of officiating another Champions League fixture this season do not look good.

UEFA sources have confirmed to MARCA that it is Collina's way of cutting mistakes out from his team of officials.

However the body won't strictly punish the German official, although he could find himself demoted to lesser profile games for the time being or simply removed from action for a specific period.

Rakitic to sign new Barcelona contract until 2021

The uncertainty over Ivan Rakitic's future at Barcelona has dissipated in recent weeks and the speculation will be quashed when the midfielder puts pen to paper on a contract renewal on Friday.

Currently on a deal that lasts through to June 2019, a two-year extension will be awarded to the Croatian who joined in 2014 from Sevilla.

Confirmed by the club, Rakitic will now sign on until 2021 with a 125 million euro release clause embedded into the agreement.

Since the beginning of February, negotiations have taken place between the two parties and talks have now concluded before Friday's signing.

How Barcelona went from crisis club to comeback kings in three weeks

Footballing cycles tend to come and go in a matter of years, even months, but with more money and pressure in the game, they only seem to turn around quicker and quicker.

Barcelona are the case in point for this theory, as the apparently dire state the club was in three weeks ago has almost completely reversed since.

Here are five reasons to explain the Blaugrana's turnaround.

Tactical changes

Luis Enrique had been criticised for his tactical inflexibility for a long while and yet that all seemed to change in an instant as his 3-4-3 formation was updated in the away win at Atletico Madrid. With opposition teams caught on the hop by Rafinha playing out wide and Lionel Messi at the front of a diamond, the impetus returned to the Catalans.

Title race opportunism

Spanish football is often dominated by the seesaw effect that balances out Real Madrid and Barcelona's respective form, and with Los Blancos experiencing a tough spell in dropping points to Valencia and Las Palmas, their rivals sensed a chance. Taking to the summit of the league may be largely irrelevant with so many games left to go, yet it nonetheless served for the Blaugrana as a huge confidence boost.

Coaching clarity

While it is impossible to predict how things would have gone without Luis Enrique's announcement of his impending departure, the confirmation that he will leave in the summer has lifted the haze around the dressing room. With the pressure released from the Asturian, the squad have also received a big injection of motivation to do their best to provide a proper send off as well as make an early impression on the new boss.

Dress rehearsals

The impossibility of making up the deficit against Paris Saint-Germain was slowly deconstructed with Barcelona's 6-1 rout of Sporting Gijon and 5-0 win over Celta Vigo in the week before. Of course, PSG were a bigger prospect but that goalscoring form was rife throughout the squad going into Wednesday night.

Neymar's awakening

Criticised as much as anyone during the Catalan club's struggles in the first half of the season, Neymar has since removed the concept of Messidependence at the Camp Nou with a number of leading performances. The stats read as four goals and two assists in three games but his rise back to world class form has been vital for its symbolism, also.

Neymar: Messi will definitely renew at Barcelona

The positive news keeps coming for Barcelona, with Neymar claiming that Lionel Messi is certain to sign a new contract at the Camp Nou.

Although the Argentine's current deal at the Blaugrana expires in June 2018, there have been no recent talks between the parties over an extension.

However, speaking briefly after his side's Champions League win over Paris Saint-Germain, Neymar allayed any fears that the Argentine may depart.

"Messi is going to renew, that is for sure," the Brazilian told beIN Sport.

Recent reports suggest a salary of 35 million euros will be used to tempt Messi into staying at the Azulgrana.

Referee error shouldn't discredit Barcelona's incredible comeback

It's almost 24 hours since Barcelona completed the most epic and unexpected comeback in the history of European Cup/Champions League football, yet there are still people willing to focus on the refereeing performance rather than the basking in the warm afterglow of a spectacle that unravelled on a magical night at the Camp Nou - and is unlikely to ever be repeated.

The first time in 214 fixtures dating back to 1955 that any team has overcome such a deficit but we're still poring over the minutiae.

It was a 'where were you when...' moment for the ages and a footballing Everest successfully negotiated.

A game that will be talked about for generations and will live long in the memory is being tarnished because it wasn't a 'pure' victory for many, in that it was somehow achieved by cheating.

It follows a school of thought that over the last few years Barcelona, through their words and deeds, are no longer befitting of the strapline of 'Mes que un club' or 'more than a club.'

That they are now just another club and shouldn't look to continue to claim the moral high ground. But that's missing the point entirely.

What's more, the major talking point on the night - Barcelona's second penalty - was actually a correct decision.

There is no doubt that Luis Suarez made the most of the challenge from Marquinhos and there's no place in football, and never will be, for such histrionics. But cheating? Certainly not.

Cheating implies he goes to ground without contact but the defender's knee catches the Uruguayan which then causes him to clip his own heels and fall - albeit theatrically.

It certainly takes the focus away from a performance where arguably Barcelona deserved a slice or two of luck.

A team that was 4-0 down but who took the game to their opponents from the kick off, and who came back again when they were down and out, should be afforded appropriate respect.

They weren't the star-studded XI who sat back on a four-goal lead playing an oddly defensive formation that would've been understandable if they were just a goal or two ahead.

Edinson Cavani's equaliser and the ease with which Paris Saint-Germain broke through Barcelona's backline when they were feeling adventurous should've turned on the bulb in Unai Emery's head for his side to orchestrate an all-out attack.

One more away goal and the tie was absolutely dead and buried but on balance, it would've been a travesty.

PSG were as poor as Barcelona had been in the Parc des Princes three weeks earlier and it's perhaps their mental inability to see out a game that they'd won - twice - that should be the main focus in the aftermath.

That and a glorious celebration of all that Barcelona's victory encapsulated.

Infantino refuses to make a call on Barcelona penalty controversies

Barcelona's astonishing comeback win over Paris St Germain in the Champions League is a reminder of soccer's enduring ability to surprise and rule changes should be handled with care, FIFA president Gianni Infantino said on Thursday.

After losing 4-0 in the first leg in France, Barcelona scored three times in the last seven minutes to win a thrilling last-16 home game 6-1 on Wednesday and march into the quarter-finals.

The feat was hailed as the greatest comeback in Champions League history.

"What you saw was an incredible match," Infantino told reporters after a FIFA executive football summit near London's Heathrow airport. "This shows that football is really a fantastic game."

Barcelona were helped, to the fury of PSG fans, by a theatrical Luis Suarez tumble that was rewarded with a stoppage-time penalty for Barcelona's fifth goal.

Video replays indicated the Uruguayan had made minimal contact with the defender.

"Whether that particular case was an injustice or not, we can leave it to the judgement of the referee at this stage," said Infantino.

The game's law-making body IFAB agreed to live trials of video assistant referees (VAR) last year, allowing match referees to consult a video official in four "game-changing" scenarios: when a goal has been scored, penalty decisions, sendings-off and mistaken identity.

Infantino, who has backed VAR, said Wednesday's game highlighted the need for care - something he had discussed at dinner with senior English and Scottish officials.

"We were saying we have really to be careful in the IFAB if we want to touch the rules, because football is such an incredible game," he said.

"Whenever you have the feeling you have seen everything, something else comes that you have never seen before.

"VAR will be there in future, hopefully, to correct, clear mistakes of the referee. In this case I don't know whether it was a clear mistake or not. But in future when there are clear mistakes this will be corrected."
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