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Barcelona midfielder was warned to be ‘intelligent’ and ‘careful’ by referee before PSG clash



Photo by JOSEP LAGO/AFP via Getty Images

It is beyond doubt that Barcelona were the better team against Paris Saint-Germain and well-placed to qualify until Ronald Araujo’s sending-off. The Uruguayan’s sanction left the club a man down and brought all hopes crumbling.

There is, however, significant debate over the validity of Araujo’s direct red card and whether it was warranted for Bradley Barcola’s blatant dive.

More importantly, that was only one of the several times Barcelona were let down by referees in both legs.

A strange warning

Mundo Deportivo reveals that a queer incident occurred in the minutes building up to kickoff on Tuesday night at Montjuic.

The on-field referee for the game, Istvan Kovacs, warned Frenkie de Jong to be ‘careful’ during the game if he wished not to be booked on the night and advised him against protesting or going into contentious fouls.

Romanian referee Istvan Kovacs in the spotlight. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE/AFP via Getty Images)

With a combination of words and gestures, the official signalled to the Dutchman that he needed to be ‘intelligent’ and play with caution. After all, he was one booking away from missing a potential semifinal.

Kovacs’ repeated gesturing with his finger to his temple reminding de Jong to be careful and intelligent was very queer, for it usually never happens on the field that a player is warned before the game.

A series of unfortunate decisions

While Araujo’s sending-off may well have been warranted, Barcelona fell victim to many refereeing decisions that clearly went the way of the opposition.

For starters, Vitinha should have been suspended for the second leg but was shown sympathy by the referee in the first leg – Anthony Taylor.

Further, the referee was prompt to whistle the penalty against Ousmane Dembele but went on to book Ilkay Gundogan when he was taken down in the PSG box, denying a spot-kick.

Kovacs gave five yellow cards and a red card to Barcelona on the night, booking over half the number of players who started the game.

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