Espanyol defender reveals details of his spat with Lionel Messi
Espanyol Alvaro Gonzalez has come out with the details of his on-field altercation with Barcelona talisman Lionel Messi during the second leg of their Copa del Rey Round of 16 clash at the Estadi Cornellà-El Prat on Thursday.
Barcelona progressed to the quarterfinals of Spain’s premier knockout tournament, the Copa del Rey after a 6-1 aggregate demolition of fierce derby rivals Espanyol. Barcelona emerged comfortable victors in the first leg with a 4-1 win at the Camp Nou while they also won the return leg 2-0 on Thursday.
The second leg at the Cornellà-El Prat also saw the 2015 Ballon d’Or winner Messi and Alvaro Gonzalez get into an argument after the latter had fouled Messi moments before the exchange. And the defender has now revealed what really transpired between the two footballers at the time.
"Leo was criticising me for some things, and I some others," he said. "I asked him if he thinks I will hurt him, and he said yes.
"He told me that I was bad, and I told him he was short. But both accepted it, laughed, and left it at that.
"There's no need to make a big deal of anything. What happens on the pitch stays there and that's it.
"The best thing about these derbies is the healthy rivalry we have."
The two-legged Catalan derby was an ill-tempered affair
The two-legged Catalan derby did not disappoint as both the games were hotly contested battles. The first leg at the Camp Nou saw two red cards being dished out for Espanyol while the second leg saw seven yellow cards handed out to players from both camps.
The first leg at the Camp Nou was a particularly ugly affair. The players from both sides got into heated arguments after Espanyol’s 21-year-old goalkeeper Pau Lopez appeared to have deliberately stamped on Messi during play. However, the young custodian clarified after the game that it was an accident and he was in no way trying to get the Argentine star injured.
Also, striker Luiz Suarez got himself into trouble after he had allegedly goaded Espanyol players in the tunnel after the match. The Espanyol camp had alleged that the Uruguayan had threatened some of their players and the striker was later handed a two-match ban for his behaviour.
Barcelona have failed with their appeal to rescind the striker’s ban and that would mean Suarez would miss Barcelona’s next two Copa del Rey matches.