Luis Enrique leapt to David Fernandez Borbalan’s defence after refereeing controversy in Athletic Bilbao-Barcelona. “It’s one of the hardest jobs there is…”
Fernandez Borbalan was heavily criticised for his performance, in which he failed to send off Aritz Aduriz for a clear elbow on Samuel Umtiti, award Barca a penalty for a foul on Neymar and send off Athletic pair Raul Garcia and Ander Iturraspe.
“It was a game typical of those in Bilbao, with intensity and [Athletic] stopping us from playing out,” the Coach said after the Catalans’ 2-1 defeat, which makes the second leg a must-win for his side.
“They took advantage of our mistakes in bringing the ball out and applied pressure when we lost it to get ahead on the scoreboard.
“In the first half, we approached their box often but failed to create any real chances and finished it in the worst way.
“In the second half, we focused more on what we could control and deserved more, we had quite a few openings and chances to draw the game.
“At the end of the first half, you could see the frustration with the [referee’s] decisions.
“Referees have a very tough job. We all see everything in our favour, that’s why I never comment on officiating. It’s one of the hardest jobs there is.
“Scoring in the second half? Luckily it’s not the other way around because then there would be the controversy of our physical condition. It’s something that I’m not worried about too much.
“The most important thing is to score one more goal than your opponents, and tonight we can’t be happy because we failed to do so.
“Our improvement in the second half? I asked my players to change lanes when playing the ball.
“These types of games require things like long balls, although it’s not our preferred option.
“These are games in which you need to make quick decisions and take only a few touches, and we found that difficult, especially in the first half.”
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