Barcelona manager Luis Enrique was forced to defend Gerard Piqué after he was accused of deliberately being cautioned during the Champions League victory against Arsenal.
The Spain international was captured on film during the first-leg tie having a surreptitious conversation with his manager on the sidelines before lunging in on Danny Welbeck and being brandished with a yellow card less than two minutes later.
Lionel Messi had already put Barca into a commanding position, hitting Arsenal on the counter-attack before adding his second from the penalty spot, leading to the suggestion that Enrique and Piqué were planning ahead for further rounds. After picking up an earlier booking in the group stage, Piqué will now miss the second-leg at the Camp Nou on March 16.
Under Uefa rules all bookings are scrapped once teams qualify for the last-eight of the competition. Arsène Wenger, the Gunners manager, has since said Enrique’s side have a 95 per cent chance of reaching the quarter-finals after their devastating late exploits in London on Tuesday night.
But a furious Enrique said afterwards: “It was not deliberate, anyone who saw the foul knows it.” In a separate interview, the Barca boss was similarly emphatic in his denial of any wrongdoing.
“I don't know if you saw the incident,” he said, “but it wasn't a deliberate [yellow] card in the slightest. If you have seen the fault, you can see that he has to do that fault.”
Uefa have the power to issue a two-match suspension under Article 15 of its disciplinary regulations for any player found guilty of purposefully getting booked.
But what do you think? Did Piqué and Enrique conspire to pick up a yellow card last night at the Emirates?