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Feb 1, 2013

Essien left his mark on Barca's Alba

Jordi Alba said he still bore the marks of a foul by Michael Essien the day after Wednesday's Copa del Rey Clasico at Real Madrid, but more annoying was the feeling Barcelona had missed chances to win the game.

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Although Barcelona's players were mostly annoyed at their profligacy in front of goal during the 1-1 semi-final first leg draw at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, the Catalan media have focused on a number of heavy challenges from Madrid's players.

Asked on Thursday whether one particular foul by on-loan Chelsea midfielder Essien had left stud-marks on his ankle, Alba pointed towards the leg of his jeans.

"Yes," he said. "I have them down here, but I am not going to show you."

On the pitch Barca's players - including Dani Alves and Leo Messi - had reacted angrily to other physical challenges, especially from Madrid's Xabi Alonso and Alvaro Arbeloa. Alba said it was normal for such incidents to happen during clasicos.

"I also get angry quickly, but then it passes," he said. "Each person has their way of being. The rivalry between Barca and Madrid is very big. Sometimes there are strong challenges."

The performance of referee Carlos Clos Gomez was criticised in the Catalan capital on Thursday. Official statistics showing Madrid committed 20 fouls, and Barca five, but both teams received three yellow cards have been highlighted. There was also questioning of the decision not to book Cristiano Ronaldo for clipping Alves to stop a Barca counter-attack, when a yellow would have brought a ban for the return leg.

Alba said he had been surprised at some of Clos Gomez's decisions, but he accepted it had not been an easy game to referee.

"[It] was surprising, although the official's job is not easy," he said. "It was a match with a lot of tension which flew back and forth."

With the game at 1-0 Barca's Pedro Rodriguez and Cesc Fabregas missed clear opportunities to increase their side's lead, while Alba himself miscued one chance to score in the first half and then saw a shot saved by Madrid keeper Diego Lopez when the scoreline was 1-1 late on.

The Spanish international said the Barca squad had left Madrid annoyed they had not pressed home their advantage.

"We played a good game," he said. "We had a lot of possession. Every time we lost the ball there was danger as they are very good on the counter-attack. But I think we deserved more. We had chances to score more goals, and take an advantage in the tie. We are a bit annoyed we did not do that."

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