"We already know Espanyol. And there's also the referee. It's a derby, you have to bite the dust, you have to go all out." Xavi Hernández's warning to his players 13 months ago was still valid yesterday although his squad did not react as the coach expected. And he was very angry when he saw that for 75 minutes the derby had more rhythm because of everything that the precautionary measure against Lewandowski generated and because the Seient Lliure was activated in the Camp Nou box after the sit-in of the Espanyol board of directors "Because of the game played by his Barça. A team that was numb and satisfied with Marcos Alonso's goal. "The draw is our fault. We have not sentenced the game. And when you forgive so many arrivals and you are not effective, we already know what happens. It's the same movie as always. It was important to end the year in the best way and we lost two points because of us", lamented Xavi, visibly disappointed and without making excuses. "We're all pissed off. Also the players. It's not the best way to EC end the year, ”he confessed.
Among so much football sleepiness, the referee wanted to monopolize all the spotlights. The last 15 minutes were worthy of a Wild West movie directed and starring the indescribable Mateu Lahoz. The referee, who returned to the scene after whistling the controversial Netherlands-Argentina game that blew up Leo Messi, enjoyed escaping discretion and attracting all eyes. Determined to wake up the Camp Nou from the Christmas sleepiness on the last afternoon of 2022. He first signaled a Marcos Alonso penalty that Joselu converted and sent Jordi Alba to the shower almost without meaning to because he did not remember that he had already shown him a yellow one. The print was curious. It was Darder, captain of Espanyol, who warned him. But it was already too late for Alba. The arbitration act explained the expulsion with a brief "for protesting one of my decisions."
“I don't know what Alba said to get him expelled. Jordi has only told me that Mateu himself did not remember that he already had a first yellow card ”, revealed Sergi Roberto, second captain of FC Barcelona yesterday. "Jordi has told me that he hasn't said anything to Mateu", added Xavi. “I have a lot of temper. Sometimes I sin in some gesture that I should not, but I have not understood the expulsion. I told Mateu that Vini had made Lewandowski's bed. I have said it with all the respect in the world. And Mateu thought it was the first yellow card”, explained Jordi Alba.
There was more show from Mateu to cheer up the few blaugrana offensive flame. Although he sent off Vini on the parakeet side, later the red card that he showed Cabrera was rethought for an action with Lewandowski causing, here, the indignation of the Barcelona bench starting with Xavi who in the previous one had surprised by praising Mateu with a "me He likes it, he talks to the player and he can be wrong, but he argues what he whistles for you”.
Grateful, the referee went from kissing the Blaugrana coach in the middle of the game to showing him the yellow card for those complaints. From Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde. “He has embraced Me and he has told me that he was glad to see me. I have told him that I do too ”, Xavi revealed that after the game he changed his mind.
“Mateu has lost control of the game. And it's usually not like that. I am surprised with his refereeing. He has handed out meaningless cards. I think that the referees must control their emotions and keep their heart rate low. It has not been like that and I told him at the end of the game. I don't like to protest but when you see injustices you can't avoid it, ”he said.
Even so, the coach fled from blaming the referee for the result. “If we have lost two important points that leave us sharing the lead with Real Madrid, it is our fault and because we have not ruled. We haven't attacked as well as usual. We had to win well because Espanyol had a chance from Nico Melamed at the beginning and the one from the penalty which is a very unfortunate move”.
Yes, Xavi wanted to defend Ansu Fati, starting for the fourth time this season but denied with the goal. “Ansu has trained very well this week. He has been extraordinary in defensive work. He has lacked effectiveness but just like the rest. He will be more successful in the next game ”. The next one is the Copa del Rey against Intecity. Already in 2023.