Lee Dixon: Bendtner must back up big talk with big performances

Notes from the Nou Camp
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The Independent Football

I was commentating on the Barcelona against Arsenal game on Tuesday night for Radio 5 Live, and I must admit it was hard to be impartial, especially when Nicklas Bendtner missed that chance late on.

I said on commentary that my granny could have controlled the ball better, and then also said that Ian Wright, Dennis Bergkamp and Thierry Henry would all have scored from there. My comments came out of frustration and I probably would not have said them had it been a domestic game.

I have defended Nicklas in the past, and when I've met him I've liked him. I know how difficult it is to live with the pressure of being a professional footballer, being under the spotlight. He sets himself up when he makes his confident comments in interviews and he had the chance to back it up on the pitch, but he failed.

I have been supportive of Nicklas but the truth is he didn't produce at the moment of truth, and so I was critical of him. I was frustrated with him, as a footballer and as a fan. As a former Arsenal player, I really wanted them to win. But I also like to think that most of the people listening back in Britain also wanted Arsenal to win, just as I always support the British teams when they play in Europe. If it had been a domestic game, I would have been more objective.

Have a word, referee

The laws of the game have to be observed but there is also an imperative on referees to uphold the spirit of the game as well. The officials have a responsibility to the wider footballing world who want to see a great game, a great occasion. So if the referee thinks Robin van Persie is guilty of time-wasting – and how he can say that for certain when there are 90,000 in the ground, only he knows – but if he is sure that an offence has taken place, then common sense dictates that he should just have a quiet word with him, rather than whip out a second yellow card.

After the game all the conversation was about the decision, and not the brilliant football that Barcelona had played. It says a lot about the ego of the official that he was happy for his controversial decision to become a bigger talking point than how well the best team in the world had played on the night.

Barcelona were out of sight

The BBC's commentary position at the Nou Camp was high in the stands, over by one of the corners. We were miles away from the action when it was at the other end of the ground, so much so that my eyes had trouble focusing from looking down at my notes, and then peering at the game. It would take me a couple of seconds for my eyes to adjust. So that's another part of me that's deteriorating.