Atletico outraged, feels referee bias in favor of Barcelona
ABS-CBN Sports on Apr 07, 2016 11:00 AM
Referee Felix Brych turns away after showing a red card to Atletico's Fernando Torres, left during a Champions League quarter-final, first leg soccer match between FC Barcelona and Atletico Madrid at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain, Tuesday April 5, 2016. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)
TALES AZZONI, AP Sports Writer
MADRID (AP) — Atletico Madrid players feel there is a referee bias in favor of Barcelona in their Champions League quarterfinal because the titleholder is more popular and powerful.
Following Barcelona's 2-1 win at the Camp Nou in the first leg on Tuesday, when Atletico endured with 10 men for nearly an hour, players didn't hide their disappointment at what they called unfair treatment by German referee Felix Brych.
"The truth is that this is lamentable," Atletico defender Filipe Luis said. "Barcelona is protected. When you play against Barcelona you notice how powerful they are, you are always penalized very rigorously, it's tough. This is not good for UEFA."
Atletico complained mostly about the sending off of Fernando Torres in the 35th minute, saying the referee was too harsh when he showed the striker yellow cards for fouls committed near midfield. Atletico was winning 1-0 and playing better when Torres was thrown out.
"The red card was totally unfair," Filipe Luis added. "In his second foul, his second yellow, totally unfair. But we knew that this was going to happen. It's not easy to play against Barcelona in the Champions League. They are a club with a lot of history, it's really dangerous if they go out in this (round), so we have to play against everybody and everything."
Atletico players also complained after Filipe Luis was pushed away by Barcelona striker Luis Suarez while going for a ball inside the Atletico area in the second half. Suarez put his hand on Filipe Luis' face to get him out of the way, prompting Atletico players to demand a red card. The linesman saw the foul but the referee showed only a yellow to Suarez, who scored both goals for Barcelona, including the winner shortly after that incident.
Torres' fouls were unnecessary and reckless enough to allow the referee to show him the yellow cards. Torres said he felt responsible for the team's loss, but hinted that things would have been different if a Barcelona player made those same tackles near midfield.
"When you notice that you are being treated differently, it's a shame," Torres said, adding it was one of the worst days of his career.
Atletico coach Diego Simeone was visibly irate on the sideline when Torres was sent off. After the game, when asked about the refereeing, he held his tongue. There are sanctions for publicly criticizing the ref.
"I'm not saying everything that I want to be saying right now," Simeone said.
Atletico committed 16 fouls and seven of its players were shown cards, while Barcelona made 19 fouls and three players received yellow cards.
It was the second game in a row at the Camp Nou in which Atletico players were sent off. They finished with nine men when they lost to Barcelona 2-1 in January in the Spanish league.
Atletico hosts the second leg of their Champions League quarterfinal next Wednesday.