Did Gerard Pique deliberately get booked after chat with Barca boss Luis Enrique?
Published 24/02/2016 | 12:00
Barcelona boss Luis Enrique has been forced to deny suggestions Gerard Pique deliberately got himself booked with a lunge on Danny Welbeck during Tuesday night's Champions League clash.
Pique was shown a yellow card for a late tackle on the England forward that will earn the defender a one-match suspension.
It came after Pique and Enrique were seen chatting on the touchline. By receiving the card, and a ban for the second leg, Pique will now have his yellow cards scrubbed for the quarter-final, if Barca progress.
With Barca already 2-0 up in the first leg of their last-16 Champions League tie at the Emirates Stadium, they are now huge favourites to progress. But Enrique was furious with suggestions that the pair colluded to make it happen, claiming: "It was not deliberate, anyone who saw the foul knows it."
However, BT Sport pundits Ian Wright and Ronald Koeman were less than convinced.
"I think so, yeah," Wright said when asked if it was deliberate. "You've got to do it. You see how Pique plays for them, he's got to be there in the latter stages.
"He's [Enrique] not going to come out and say he told his players to get a yellow card."
Southampton boss (and former Barcelona defender) Koeman agreed.
Koeman said: "For sure he took it. It's not a tackle that you do at 2-0 up."
Uefa can hand down a two-match suspension under Article 15 of its disciplinary regulations for any player that purposefully gets booked.
And it has happened before. In 2010, Sergio Ramos and Xabi Alonso were sent off in Real Madrid's Champions League group game against Ajax, with Real already 4-0 up.
They each earned a yellow card for time wasting, picked up a suspension for the final group game and therefore a clean slate for the knockout phase.
Then Real boss Jose Mourinho was handed a suspended two-game ban and £35,000 fine, while the players were fined £18,000 each.