Cristiano Ronaldo believes Barcelona were given ‘outside help’ in their Champions League semi-final clash with Real Madrid, suggesting the Catalan club be handed the trophy next season to save hassle.
The Portuguese forward was incensed by the performance of the referee during the clash at Camp Nou – which was drawn 1-1 to send Barca through – and backed up his manager Jose Mourinho’s claims of a conspiracy in favour of their rivals.
Ronaldo said: ‘Barcelona are a difficult team to beat because they get outside help. Next year they should give the cup directly to them.’
Real’s main gripe concerned Gonzalo Higuain’s disallowed goal just minutes after half-time.
Ronaldo accidentally tripped up Javier Mascherano in the lead-up play, although the world’s most expensive player appeared to have himself been tripped by a home defender to initiate the contact.
He added: ‘We knew we could beat Barca, but the referee didn’t let us. Once again it was the referee that didn’t allow us to dictate the outcome.’
‘The referee in the first match (Wolfgang Stark) took away our chances of playing the final. Whoever knows anything about football knows that Barcelona get preferential treatment.’
‘Higuain’s goal was good. (Gerard) Pique pushed me and I landed on Mascherano. He didn’t used to fall to the ground in England, but he’s picked up the bad habit of doing it here like everyone else.’
Ronaldo pointed to the domestic Cup win, the second of four ‘Clasicos’ between the clubs in three competitions in 18 days, as evidence that Real were capable of beating Barca when the officials were neutral.
‘Barcelona have a lot of power off the pitch,’ he said. ‘There are no differences between the teams as was seen throughout the four matches.’
Spanish World Cup winner Xabi Alonso was equally dumbfounded at the decision: ‘When we scored the first goal it would have been totally different and we feel so many bad decisions have been made against us and we are not happy about that,’ he said.
‘We think we did a good job but decisions went against us, we really feel that way.’
‘It would have changed everything, our position would have been much stronger and after that it was much more difficult,’ he said.
Minutes later Pedro converted a fantastic ball from Andres Iniesta before Marcelo levelled on the night for Madrid.
Assistant coach Aitor Karanka, who was in the dugout due to Jose Mourinho’s suspension, claimed the performance of the officials proved his side had no chance of making it through to the Champions League final.
‘(Jose) Mourinho was right,’ Karanka said. ‘He said that it would be impossible for us to go through. Tonight proved that it was impossible and 100 million people saw it – there is nothing more to add.’
Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas, who kept his side in the game with a string of fine saves in the first half, was also frustrated at the decision to disallow Higuain’s strike.
‘It has happened again – just like always,’ he said after the game. ‘Playing 11 against 11 we have shown we can compete without complexes and it takes me back to the first game; if we had finished 0-0 (the score before Pepe was sent off), tonight’s 1-1 would have taken us through to the final.’
Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola did not agree with the opinions on the refereeing of both legs, insisting it was not the main talking point.
‘I don’t have time for that, it has been a tough 20 days and we have played the richest team in the world many times, the referee may have had an influence but we were very good in the second match,’ he said.
Guardiola also said he was happy to be returning to the venue where the club won their first European Cup 19 years ago.
‘Football is coming home so it an honour to play at Wembley,’ he said. ‘We won our first Champions League in 1992 at the old Wembley and we are ever so proud for our club and players.’
The 40-year-old Barca manager thinks Manchester United will progress against Schalke to set up a repeat of the 2009 final which his side won 2-0, but he believes that would have no bearing on any potential rematch.
‘I suppose it will be Manchester [in the final], it was two years ago and I think Sir Alex Ferguson will always be there so for us it is an honour and for me as a young coach it is an honour to arrive at the final and play them,’ he said.