Dani Alves has criticised the Barcelona supporters who decided to stay away from Wednesday’s 2-0 Copa del Rey semifinal first leg win over Real Sociedad at the Camp Nou, saying that he and his teammates need the backing of their fans at the moment.
Barca took a potentially decisive advantage in the tie through a Sergio Busquets strike and own goal attributed to visiting goalkeeper Enaut Zubikarai.
But Gerardo Martino’s men did not shine despite playing over 45 minutes against 10 men in a game played in a subdued atmosphere in the Camp Nou, with just 38,505 present in a ground which holds 98,772, and the feeling persists that the team have been affected by the recent off-field turbulence which has seen Sandro Rosell resign as president amid a court investigation into Neymar’s transfer to the club last summer.
Last month, only 25,551 supporters were present at the Camp Nou for their Copa del Rey quarterfinal second leg against Levante.
Alves told Al Primer Toque after the game that people who had decided to give the game a miss were letting the players down.
“I think that here the people are a bit pessimistic,” Alves said. “With the smallest thing here people get much colder. But I think Barcelona is a thing for everyone, not just the players. This club is made up of players and fans -- everyone fighting for the same objective, which is to win and enjoy a final. Those who do not show up are not as big ‘cules’ as they say they are.”
Blaugrana coach Gerardo Martino was more understanding at his postmatch news conference, suggesting he understood why fans might not have come out for what was Barca’s fourth home game in 10 days, which kicked off at 10 p.m. local time and was on free-to-air TV.
“I can just say that if I had sympathies for Barcelona and was working on Thursday, and the game was on Wednesday night at 10 p.m., then I would not come,” Martino said. “This might be the exclusive reason why the fans did not come, the truth is I do not know.”
The game hinged on a frantic 60 seconds just before half-time. First Barca defender Javier Mascherano appeared to commit a penalty and professional foul on la Real attacker Carlos Vela.
The ball quickly moved up the other end and Busquets put the home side ahead from a corner. It was all too much for visiting defender Inigo Martinez, who reportedly told referee Jose Luis Gonzalez Gonzalez that "he could take it up the a---" and was immediately shown a red card.
Martino played down the link between these three incidents, saying he did not believe Mascherano had committed a foul, and could not say whether Martinez had deserved to be sent off.
“I believe they are three different things,” the Argentine coach said. “Vela’s counter-attack, from what I saw, there is a race between two players and Vela shooting with his left foot. Our goal had nothing to do with that move. And about the sending-off, who can talk about that.”
Vela himself was less happy with the incident, telling Antena 3 that the quickfire combination of no penalty, goal conceded, and red card had ‘killed’ his team’s chances in the game.
“We began playing deep and having chances on the break,” said the Mexican attacker. “For me it was a penalty. I could not shoot well, and I believe the referee made a mistake. It was a tough moment, it killed us. Mascherano did not let me shoot as I wanted. For me it is a penalty, and a sending off.”