Friday 24 March 2017

Ronaldo axed as Mourinho refuses to back down

Pete Jenson in Barcelona

Hostilities between Real Madrid and Barcelona show no signs of abating as the two sides prepare for their first league matches since both reported the other to European football's governing body, UEFA.

Jose Mourinho said images posted on Real Madrid's website that showed Barcelona players feigning injuries "spoke more than a thousand words". He also said the events of the last few days had only hardened his resolve to stay at the club into next season.

Pep Guardiola said he would only address questions about Real Madrid next week on the eve of the second leg. Asked if he thought his players dived and play-acted he said: "I will answer that on Monday."

Unrepentant

Mourinho was unrepentant over comments he made after the semi-final first leg.

"All I did was ask a question. I did not accuse anybody," he said. "I just asked why? The images are there. The images say it all."

"I am more determined than ever to continue here," added Mourinho, who has surprisingly left Cristiano Ronaldo out of the squad to face Real Zaragoza today, fuelling speculation there is growing tension between the two.

He explained the absence of Xabi Alonso and Marcelo, who are also rested, saying they were exhausted. But when asked to explain Ronaldo's omission, he would only say: "It's my decision."

Ronaldo, who was critical of Madrid's defensive tactics against Barcelona, misses out on the chance to add to the 29 league goals he has scored this season. He is two goals behind Leo Messi and nine behind La Liga's all-time record of 38 goals for a season.

Guardiola will rest defender Carles Puyol for the trip to Real Sociedad.

Independent News Service.

Irish Independent

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