Xavi Hernandez, the Barcelona midfielder, described Real Madrid's behaviour as "lamentable" and "pathetic" yesterday as relations between the two clubs continued to plumb new depths on the eve of their Champions League semi-final second leg.
Real Madrid made an official complaint to Uefa over what they said was a systematic play-acting campaign from Barcelona, but Europe's governing body threw out the claims yesterday. Real have also complained about racist abuse from Sergi Busquets and reacted angrily to Uefa dismissing their complaints.
“I think Uefa has Fair Play and respect branded on everything, but now there are players at Barcelona that don’t respect that with racist comments and they are not punished,” said the assistant coach, Aitor Karanka, standing in for the suspended Jose Mourinho.
Tomorrow there will be players playing that can be seen in images shown all over the world delivering racist insults while covering up their mouths while other players that did not do that are not on the pitch.”
A video on Real's website appears to show Busquets turn to the Madrid defender Marcelo and call him a "mono" – monkey in Spanish.
The Barcelona coach, Pep Guardiola, defended his players but stopped short of saying of saying Busquets was innocent of all crimes. “I know these players. They are an example of professionalism,” said the Barcelona coach. “They love this sport. Some of them, during the game, can make a mistake but as players they are exemplary both for Spain and for Barcelona."
Asked if he would punish Busquets he said: "We are not proud when they make mistakes but I know these players. If we do something wrong then Uefa have to decide. What is in the past is in the past. It won't happen again.
"They teach the kids here so much more than football. There are examples in our youth football of us scoring a goal with an unfair advantage and us then allowing the other team to equalise. I know these players much more than Real Madrid's lawyers do."
Mourinho's assistant Karanka said the match had now become of secondary importance after all that had happened between the two clubs and repeated Mourinho's comments at the weekend that the images the club believe show Barcelona players exaggerating injuries "spoke for themselves".
Barcelona midfielder Xavi was less composed than his manager saying: "Everything that is happening is lamentable. Uefa have thrown out Real Madrid's complaints and rightly so. It is all so pathetic for Madrid to report Barcelona to Uefa. We don't want to enter into a war of words with Mourinho."
He also attacked Madrid for their tactic of not cutting the Bernabeu grass in the first leg. "It makes no sense," he said. "There should be a law about the length of the grass. It is important for the fans and for the quality of football. There are laws about everything but there is no rule about the length of the grass. People don't want dry pitches with long grass."
Real Madrid directors are due to sit down with their Barcelona counterparts tomorrow for the customary pre-match lunch but pleasantries will be in short supply. Trust between the clubs is at an all-time low. Some images from television channels based in Madrid that were used to support the argument that Pepe had not touched Daniel Alves prior to his dismissal later turned out to have been digitally altered, adding to feelings of bad blood.
Xavi denied that problems between the two sides will now affect players' relations when they meet up to play for Spain. "I don't want to think it will affect the national team. We have won too much together for it to have any lasting effect."
He took another dig at Madrid when he predicted a different approach in the second leg from Mourinho's side. "We will go on the attack but we have to be prepared in case they attack," he said. "They have been ultra-defensive so far. Their game will have to change now because of how the first leg finished. We would like a rival that wants to take us on – a team that wants to play attacking football."
Pointers for Mourinho
* Jose Mourinho allegedly hid from Uefa officials in a laundry basket during a Champions League quarter-final tie with Bayern Munich in 2005 – he reportedly broke the terms of a ban in place on him by sneaking into Chelsea's dressing room before the match to speak to the players. It is claimed he was smuggled back out of the changing rooms to the hotel inside Stamford Bridge, where he maintains he watched the entire match.
* In 14 matches against Barcelona, Mourinho has won four times, although he has never won at the Nou Camp and none of these victories was by a margin of more than two.
* The last time Barcelona were beaten at home in the Champions League by a margin that would put Real Madrid through was in 1997, when Dynamo Kiev won 4-0.Reuse content