Barcelona head coach Luis Enrique has denied that he told Gerard Pique to get himself booked against Arsenal on Tuesday night - but new footage has emerged and it’s difficult not to feel suspicious.
Some people believe that Pique was instructed to earn himself a tactical booking following Lionel Messi’s second goal against the Gunners.
Less than a minute after his conversation with Enrique, Pique slid in late on Danny Welbeck and picked up a yellow card that rules him out of the second leg at the Camp Nou. With the last-16 tie effectively over - Arsenal are unlikely to beat Barcelona by two clear goals in Spain - Pique will be available again for the quarter-finals.
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After the match, Enrique was quoted by Sky Sports as telling reporters in his post-match press conference: "I don't know if you saw the incident but it wasn't a deliberate [yellow] card in the slightest.
“If you have seen the fault, you can see that he has to do that fault."
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Video: New footage of Enrique talking to Pique
But now new footage has emerged - per 101 Great Goals - of Enrique in conversation with one of his assistants moments after Messi’s second goal.
This was followed by Enrique looking over to Pique and having a quick discussion - with their hands over their mouths, of course - and the defender getting himself booked 36 seconds later.
Although the footage is suspicious, it’s almost impossible to prove that Enrique instructed Pique to earn the yellow card.
Boost for Barcelona
It’s certainly a bonus for the Catalan giants, however, that their best defender will be available for the quarter-finals.
With or without Pique, Barcelona will be expected to see off Arsenal following their important victory in London.
Ian Wright: Pique was smart to get booked
Speaking after the match on BT Sport, former Arsenal striker Ian Wright admitted he thought Pique intentionally got himself booked - but conceded that it was probably a smart decision.
“He misses the next leg and he's clear and free for the game afterwards,” Wright commented.
"You've got to do it, I think. Look at how Pique plays for them; he is absolutely brilliant for them. In the latter stages of this, he has got to be there."
Per Mertesacker is pessimistic
Arsenal know their chances of advancing to the quarter-finals are now slim at best, with Per Mertesacker admitting his team must now concentrate on the Premier League.
Messi believes the tie isn't over yet
However, Messi stopped short of agreeing that Barcelona already have one foot in the next round.
"We played a great game, got a good result, against a really good team with really good players," the five-time Ballon d’Or winner was quoted as saying by ESPN. "I am very happy for how we did our work in each moment.
"Arsenal are capable of everything. We played a great game, but we know the tie is not over yet. Two goals away from home is very important, but it is not over yet. We will go out to win the return."
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