BARCELONA, SPAIN - APRIL 24: Branislav Ivanovic of Chelsea reacts during the UEFA Champions League Semi Final, second leg match between FC Barcelona and Chelsea FC at Camp Nou on April 24, 2012 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
By now, you're all familiar with that post-game interview. Branislav Ivanovic was in a mood to celebrate - Chelsea had just come from behind to clinch a draw against one of the best teams in world football with only ten men, and in doing so had advanced to the Champions League final in Munich. It was happy times, until Geoff Shreeves decided that he could probably get a rise out of the Serbian by reminding him that while his team may have a date in the Allianz Arena, he would not.
Except that's not what happened. Ivanovic didn't know how to react. The Guardian compared the look on his face - not without just cause - to this:
Why? Because Ivanovic had no idea he was suspended until Shreeves asked him what it was like to be suspended. None. That's what made the interview so traumatic - Shreeves didn't know he was breaking his heart until he'd already been a complete jerkface about it*. Most of the conversation about the suspension has been based on how goddamn sad the interview was, and the rest has been dedicated to how unfair it is that three bookings over the course of the season means that Chelsea are missing the likes of Ramires and Ivanovic.
*Note to Mr. Shreeves: I find a good rule of thumb is never to do something that could be interpreted as jerkface-y unless you mean it. With that in mind, you're a talentless, annoying, pitiful excuse for a human being.
I'm going to blaze new territory, however, because that interview and the bookings taken by the aforementioned suspendees raise a serious question in my mind: Did the players a yellow from suspension even know that they were a booking away from missing the final?
Ramires has received a mountain of praise for his brilliant performance on Tuesday. Scoring a world-class goal that brought Chelsea back into some semblance of control within two minutes of picking up the booking that will rule him out of the final has been praised as an act of nigh-on heroic selflessness. But another explanation, given Ivanovic's confusion after the match and the manner in which both he and Ramires were suspended (dissent), is that the players didn't even know that they should be avoiding yellow cards at all costs.
If they didn't know, everything makes so much more sense. If you think you're safe, it's ok, if silly, to pick up dissent-related cards when things aren't going your way, and things certainly weren't going Chelsea's way when either card was given. Protesting a soft penalty and being angry over conceding a goal are completely normal things, and if it wasn't for the situation Ivanovic and Ramires now find themselves in we wouldn't give either of them a second thought.
If they did know, on the other hand, picking up bookings for dissent like that was almost as insane as what John Terry did to Alexis Sanchez for his red card. What makes more sense - that there was a screwup in communication somewhere in the chain, or that no less than three Chelsea players independently made completely and utterly bat[shop] decisions over the course of ninety minutes?
I'm not saying that Chelsea didn't tell Ramires or Ivanovic to tread softly, but it does seem kind of weird that two key players would pick up such pointless, harmless yellows, and my inclination is to think that something is up there.