Real Madrid defender Pepe
will play in Wednesday's King's Cup quarter-final second leg at
Barcelona if he is fit despite the controversy over his alleged
stamp on Lionel Messi's hand in last week's first game, coach
Jose Mourinho said on Tuesday.
Pepe denied intentionally treading on Messi in the 2-1
defeat and the incident, caught on television cameras, was
apparently missed by the referee, who had earlier booked the
Portuguese for a late tackle on Sergio Busquets.
The 28-year-old Pepe, who was left out of Sunday's La Liga
win at home to Athletic Bilbao, is available for the game at the
Nou Camp after the Spanish football federation (RFEF) decided on
Monday to take no action against him.
At a news conference where his often difficult relationship
with the media hit a new low, a tetchy Mourinho said Pepe and
midfielders Lassana Diarra and Esteban Granero had minor
injuries and a decision on their availability would be taken on
"There are three players with problems, including Lass and
Granero," Mourinho, who gave curt responses to most of the
questions he was asked, told reporters.
"If he is physically fit he'll play," he said of his
Barca decided not to report Pepe over the incident and said
it was up to the football authorities to take the initiative.
President Sandro Rosell, responding to the federation's
decision to stand pat, said Spain could learn from countries
The English FA on Monday charged Manchester City striker
Mario Balotelli with violent conduct following an incident in
Sunday's Premier League match against Tottenham Hotspur when he
appeared to stamp on the head of Spurs midfielder Scott Parker.
The referee took no action but Italian Balotelli was subject
to a so-called retrospective action and could be banned for four
"It would be good if with Pepe one took the example of what
happens in countries like England," Rosell said.
"When someone jumps a red light the police should punish
them even if the pedestrian who gets run over does not report
The Pepe incident has added extra spice to the cup second
leg but Mourinho batted away several questions about what
tactics he plans to employ to try to reverse Real's woeful run
of results against their arch rivals.
Last week's defeat at the Bernabeu was Mourinho's fifth
against Barca in nine games since he joined Real and he has only
managed one win in a 'Clasico', a 1-0 success after extra-time
in last year's cup final.
"I won't answer," he said when probed about his plans. "I am
the coach and the decision is mine and I don't have to announce
Asked about an unsourced report in the Spanish media that he
plans to leave Real in June, the former Chelsea and Inter Milan
manager added: "Did I say that? Ask your colleague."
Another reporter asked him if he was happy at Real and
Mourinho answered with a vague murmur that appeared to indicate
Responding to an enquiry about why he thought some Real fans
had whistled him in Sunday's win over Bilbao, he said curtly: "I
don't know. You'll have to ask them."
Spanish media have also reported an alleged training ground
row between Mourinho and Real's Spain defender Sergio Ramos and
suggested there was a rift in the squad between the Spanish
internationals and the Portuguese.
Ramos used his Twitter account to reject the reports on
Tuesday, saying he wanted the issue closed and that he and
Mourinho were fighting for the same goals.
"I think that enough is enough and the mole, or moles,
should be accurate with their information," he wrote.
"I have never in my career shown disrespect for any coach,"
he added. "With that, I deny some things they said about me and
that I never said."
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