Mourinho turns up heat on Barça's Guardiola

Real coach accuses rival of criticising referees ahead of Champions League semi-final
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The Independent Football

Jose Mourinho accused Pep Guardiola of being uniquely critical of referees ahead of tonight's Champions League semi-final first leg between Real Madrid and Barcelona. Mourinho directed attention onto his Barcelona counterpart yesterday, saying that he was the only coach who criticises officials for making the correct decisions.

Last Wednesday, Mourinho's side beat Barcelona 1-0 to win the Copa del Rey. A Pedro goal was correctly ruled out for offside, a decision criticised by Guardiola. "We seem to be starting a new era," Mourinho said. "Until now we have two groups of coaches. One very small group who never talk about referees, and one much bigger group, of which I am part, who talk about referees when it feels that a wrong decision has been made. But now we have a third group with only Guardiola in it, of coaches who criticise a referee for getting a decision right."

The Real coach then pointed to refereeing decisions that have gone in Barcelona's favour in recent years. "I have never seen anything like it," he continued. "Maybe it is because in his first season he lived through the scandal of Stamford Bridge [when Barcelona knocked out Chelsea after withstanding several strong penalty claims] and perhaps from that time on he is not happy when referees get it right. He played against one less in the match with Inter last season and then again in the match against Arsenal. Now in the Cup final when the referee has a very difficult decision to make, and he gets it right, he criticises it."

Mourinho would not be drawn on predictions. "There are no favourites in semi-finals," he said. "Maybe after the first leg we can talk about one team having a slight advantage."