Real Madrid and Barcelona were involved in arguably the game of the season in Spain on Sunday, but it was not without controversy.
In match described by some as a Clasico of Clasicos, Barcelona ended Real Madrid’s 2014 unbeaten run with an outstanding 4-3 victory.
Karim Benzema notched two first-half goals for the hosts whilst Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo scored a second half penalty. For the visitors, Andres Iniesta scored the game’s opener and Argentine superstar Lionel Messi helped himself to a hat-trick, two from the penalty spot.
The game, despite all it’s fabulous link-up player and mesmerising passing and dribbling, wasn’t without its notorious play acting and controversy.
Referee Alberto Undiano Mellenco was given arguably football’s most stressful job, and he ultimately played a huge part in the encounter – awarding three penalties and a Real Madrid red card.
The first huge talking point came in the second half as Real Madrid were awarded a penalty for a foul on former Manchester United ace Cristiano Ronaldo. There was nothing controversial about the foul, but Ronaldo was at least two yards outside the box when felled by Dani Alves – and the penalty was his first big mistake.
The next decision was ultimately the game-changer – as the referee awarded Barcelona a spot kick and sent off Sergio Ramos in the process. Was it a foul?
It was debatable, but Real Madrid would have been livid had that happened in the opposite area and no penalty awarded – the red card was harsh though.
The final decision and possibly the most controversial was another late spot kick for Barcelona. Iniesta was sandwiched by two Real players in the box, but it was as soft a penalty as you will likely see all season – especially for an away side at the Bernabeu.
The decisions naturally enraged the Real Madrid players, with Sergio Ramos, Cristiano Ronaldo and Marcelo all complaining in front of the Spanish press AS cameras after the game.
Cristiano Ronaldo, according to AS, however, made arguably the most outrageous claim and one which could land him in a spot of bother.
He said: “In my opinion, Undiano [the referee] doesn’t have the level to referee a game of this magnitude.”
“I don’t want to give the excuses about the referee, but after analysing the 90 minutes, there were a lot of errors.”
“He was nervous, and the referee in this case has to be calm. He was very bad.”
He went on to say that Real Madrid, because of their size, will always generate envy and that certain people don’t want Barcelona to fall from the title-race - but who is he hinting at?
“Real Madrid is the biggest club in the world and it generates envy. In the title-race, certain people wouldn’t want Barcelona to fall from the fight for the title.”
Hopefully, that wasn't aimed at the referee or he could land himself in hot water with the Spanish FA.
Did the referee get the major decisions wrong in El Clasico?