Mourinho backs under fire Pepe to feature in Clasico

Real Madrid defender Pepe will play in Wednesday's King's Cup quarter-final second leg at Barcelona if he is fit despite the controversy over his alleged stamp on Lionel Messi's hand in last week's first game,coach Jose Mourinho said

Written by Reuters | Madrid | Published: January 25, 2012 12:56:11 am

Real Madrid defender Pepe will play in Wednesday’s King’s Cup quarter-final second leg at Barcelona if he is fit despite the controversy over his alleged stamp on Lionel Messi’s hand in last week’s first game,coach Jose Mourinho said on Tuesday.

Pepe denied intentionally treading on Messi in the 2-1 defeat and the incident,caught on television cameras,was apparently missed by the referee,who had earlier booked the Portuguese for a late tackle on Sergio Busquets.

The 28-year-old Pepe,who was left out of Sunday’s La Liga win at home to Athletic Bilbao,is available for the game at the Nou Camp after the Spanish soccer federation (RFEF) decided on Monday to take no action against him.

“There are three players with problems,including Lass and Granero,” Mourinho,who gave curt responses to most of the questions he was asked,told reporters. “If he is physically fit he’ll play,” he said of his compatriot Pepe.

Barca decided not to report Pepe over the incident and said it was up to the soccer authorities to take the initiative. President Sandro Rosell,responding to the federation’s decision to stand pat,said Spain could learn from countries like England.

“It would be good if with Pepe one took the example of what happens in countries like England,” Rosell said referring to the suspension of Balotelli. “When someone jumps a red light the police should punish them even if the pedestrian who gets run over doesnt report it.”

Coach mum on Madrid’s plans

The Pepe incident has added extra spice to the Cup’s second leg but Mourinho batted away several questions about what tactics he plans to employ to try to reverse Real’s woeful run of results.

Last week’s defeat at the Bernabeu was Mourinho’s fifth against Barca in nine games since he joined Real and he has only managed one win in a ‘Clasico’,a 1-0 success after extra time in last year’s Cup final.

“I won’t answer,” he said when probed about his plans. “I am the coach and the decision is mine and I don’t have to announce it publically. Asked about an unsourced report in the Spanish media that he plans to leave Real in June,the former Chelsea and Inter Milan manager added: Did I say that? Ask your colleague.”

Responding to an enquiry about why he thought some Real fans had whistled him on Sunday,he said: “I don’t know. You’ll have to ask them.”

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