Valencia coach Cesare Prandelli was not surprised that the controversial calls went Barcelona’s way.
The former Italy manager said it happens all over the world: The big teams always seem to get the benefit of the doubt when it comes to refereeing. He saw that it’s no different in the Spanish league.
Prandelli tried not to blame his team’s 3-2 home defeat to Barcelona on alleged bad calls by the referee, but hinted more than once after Saturday’s game that refs have too much respect for the top teams.
“Everyone knows that the big teams always have a `psychological advantage,’ as we say in Italy,” Prandelli said. “It’s the same in every country.”
Barcelona won thanks to a penalty kick converted by Lionel Messi in second-half stoppage time in a game in which Valencia loudly complained about calls against Prandelli’s team at Mestalla Stadium.
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Although the last-minute penalty appeared to be called correctly as Aymen Abdennour fouled Luis Suarez inside the area, the hosts said the Uruguay striker should have been called offside when he stood in front of the goal as Messi opened the scoring in the first half. They also were upset at a non-call of an alleged penalty on striker Rodrigo about 10 minutes later, and argued that Sergio Busquets should have received his second yellow card for a hard foul just before halftime.
“In Italy I preferred not to comment about the refereeing,” Prandelli said. “I rather not do it, but the images are clear. It’s useless to say anything else, the images are very clear.”
It was the first loss in two matches for Prandelli since he took charge of Valencia, which has only nine points after nine rounds and is not far off the relegation zone.
“I am disappointed with the result, I’m disappointed for the players, I’m disappointed for our fans because they created a magnificent atmosphere,” Prandelli said.
Valencia sports director Suso Garcia Pitarch harshly complained about referee Undiano Mallenco.
“He will be ashamed if he watches this game again some day,” Pitarch said. “Spanish soccer can’t afford to have such lamentable refereeing in a game like this.”
Saturday’s game was also marked by fans throwing a water bottle at Barcelona players while they celebrated Messi’s late winner. Neymar and Suarez both went to ground putting their hands to their heads, but were not seriously injured.
Prandelli said he did not see the incident but condemned it, as did Barcelona coach Luis Enrique, dismissing any insinuation that his players might have provoked the Valencia supporters behind the goal.
“We celebrated a goal like you should celebrate a goal in the last minute against a tough rival,” he said. “It was normal.”