'I thought penalty calls were wrong' - Valverde refuses to blast referee after Barcelona held to draw

goal.com, 14 December 2019, 15:39
The Blaugrana felt they should have been awarded a late spot kick but their manager was measured in his post-match analysis

Ernesto Valverde declined to be critical of referee Javier Alberola Rojas follwong two penalty decisions against Barcelona in their 2-2 draw away to Real Sociedad in La Liga.

The Blaugrana were denied three points this weekend in their defence of their title, having been outplayed for lengthy periods by an opposition side that saw Real Madrid loanee Martin Odegaard star.

However, the reigning champions were aggrieved at a missed call where they felt they should have been awarded a penalty during injury-time after Gerard Pique and Diego Llorente were both sent sprawling to the ground contesting a Luis Suarez cross.

Barcelona's frustrations were heightened by the fact Sociedad had taken the lead from a spot-kick of their own after 12 minutes, when Sergio Busquets was penalised for tugging Llorente's shirt in circumstances not dissimilar to those involving Pique at the end of the match.

Yet while sections of the Spanish media bemoaned the consistency of the officials, Valverde was more measured in his post-match comments.

"From the bench you see the game with the shirt of your team on," said the Barca boss.

"The penalty to Pique? I have not seen it repeated but I will say that it is a penalty and that the Busquets one was not. I guess the coach of la Real will say the opposite."

Barcelona's failure to win means Real Madrid can move two points clear at the top of the table by beating Valencia ahead of Wednesday's Clasico at Camp Nou.

Yet Valverde highlighted the fact his side had faced a stiff opponent in fourth-placed Sociedad, adding: "We had a great team in front of us that is having a great season. The game was very intense in every way."

The 55-year-old also firmly rejected suggestions his second-half changes, which saw Busquets, Jordi Alba and Ivan Rakitic withdrawn, had been made with the Clasico in mind.

"What do you think? We are dying here, on the bench, and are we going to think about the Clasico? You think about what you have in front of you," Valverde stated.

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