An extraordinary night of Champions League football last night, and no, we don’t mean both Manchester super-powers being dumped unceremoniously out of the tournament. We are referring to the extremely dodgy circumstances surrounding the Zagreb v Lyon game.
Before last night’s Champions League action kicked off, French side Lyon looked, for all intents and purposes, dead and buried. Lagging three points behind second-placed Ajax, Remi Garde’s side needed to win their final game against Dinamo Zagreb and make up a goal difference of seven to make it to the last sixteen.
Well, unlikely as it may have seemed, the impossible happened. Lyon won 7-1 and perhaps less surprisingly Ajax lost 0-3 to Spanish giants Real Madrid. Needless to say, all hell has broken lose today. Ajax are absolutely furious, claiming they are victims of a conspiracy. Lyon are furious that anyone would suggest any wrong doing. Zagreb have sacked their coach and are frantically performing the Chief Wiggum ‘Nothing to see here!’ act. The fact that the French gambling authorities have become involved suggests they have spotted ‘unusual betting patterns’. For example, a large number of bets coming in from a region, say for example the Balkans, on Zagreb to lose, or to lose heavily or any other unusual circumstance.
Let’s break it all down Mulder and Scully style. Ajax are probably barking up the wrong tree, despite having had two seemingly good goals ruled out for offsides. The fact of the matter is Real Madrid’s B side is good enough to win most leagues. That 0-3 result is probably legitimate. Lyon? It is highly doubtful they are involved in any kind of match fixing, more than anything they probably just gleefully took advantage of what has appeared to been handed them.
That leaves Dinamo Zagreb.
Let’s have a look at the evidence, which is beginning to stack pretty high against them.
The case for the prosecution
The damning video evidence
The timing of the goals
Lyon’s goal scoring record to date
Domagoj Vida - ‘The wink’
The sending off
Dinamo’s history of corruption
Dinamo sacking their coach
The damning video evidence This is a real video nasty. The defending is horrendous, suspiciously nonexistent at times. The goalkeeper doesn’t even try to stretch his hand out for a couple of the later goals. It is so bad that Dinamo don’t even appear to be trying to stop Lyon from scoring. Don’t take anyone else’s words for it, judge for yourself. Take careful note in particular at the ‘defensive’ play of Domagoj Vida. More on him later. By our count, Vida is to blame for at least three of the goals.
Another odd element of this is, Lyon’s bland reaction to the goals, as they fly in. If your team scores three goals in under seven minutes, a Champions League record, wouldn’t you at least break into a half smile? The Lyon players react as if they are about to be forced to watch the Twilight movies back to back to back.
The timing of the goals This could mean nothing, or it could mean everything. Check out the timing of Lyon’s goals. Extremely suspicious. Three goals in under seven minutes? What the what?! Then another clutter of goals in an eleven minute spell between the 65th and 76th minute.
45 - B.Gomis
48 - M.Gonalons
49 - B.Gomis
52 - B.Gomis
65 - Lopez
70 - B.Gomis
76 - J.Briand
It just looks wrong, no? Particularly when you consider..
Lyon’s goal scoring record to date You may say, ‘Well, Dinamo are absolutely rubbish, so it is no shock they were beaten so badly’. Not so fast! Consider also Lyon’s goal scoring record in the tournament to date. Lyon are a decent side (all Champions League teams are decent sides) but they are known as hard to break down and well organised, they are not known as a free scoring machine. Did you know Lyon had scored just two goals in their first five Champions League matches? Two goals. And now, in one half of football, six goals. Remember, Lyon hadn’t scored in their last three Champions League matches . Nudge nudge, wink wink, cough cough.
Domagoj Vida - ‘The wink’ Back to our mate Domagoj Vida, he who was to blame for possibly half the goals scored last night. If it does turn out that Vida was involved in some kind of half witted match fixing attempt, then someone should probably give the lad an IQ test before he is carted off to jail. He may be exempt from prison on the basis of low intelligence. Strong comments, however we have two pictures to back them up.
First, Mr. Vida winking at a Lyon player after one of the goals. No, seriously. Look for yourself. Winking.
Secondly, Mr. Vida leaving a bookies office earlier this season. No, seriously. A professional soccer player leaving a bookies office, in broad daylight. For real. Ladies and gentlemen, we give you Domagoj Vida. Potentially the dumbest criminal of all times.
The sending off This one is just odd. Zagreb, already out of the tournament mathematically speaking, had absolutely nothing to play for, so what on earth was light tackling midfielder Jerko Leko doing getting sent off for two bookable offences within the first 28 minutes?! Complete head scratcher, or something way more sinister?
Dinamo’s history of corruption In short, this is not the first time Dinamo have been heavily involved in match fixing allegations. It has happened several times before. Here is an example. What can you say, did it before, more likely to do it again, right?
Dinamo sacking their coach One last thread to connect, Dinamo Zagreb sacked their manager Krunoslav Jurcic a few hours after this debacle. At first glance, understandable given the severity of the result, however how about the fact that Jurcic’s side lead their domestic league by a healthy six point margin. How do you sack a manager when that’s the situation? Could this be Dinamo trying to divert attention from other potential issues?
The ruling... Our hypothesis? This is not a grand conspiracy. We suggest one or two Dinamo players, working with a betting syndicate, combined to ensure Lyon got the goals they needed. At the end of the day, the whole thing is pretty easy to solve. Simply find the suspicious betting patterns, and follow them until you get to the root. That, and let an authority figure know if you see Domagoj Vida driving around in a new Bugatti Veyron.