Atletico Madrid defender Diego Godin appears to have admitted that he instructed team-mate Miranda to target Lionel Messi’s injured thigh in Wednesday’s Supercopa first leg.
Barcelona star Messi was taken off at half-time in the game at the Estadio Vicente Calderon, and subsequent tests revealed he had suffered a bruise to the femoral biceps tendon in his left thigh.
Al Jazeera analysts saw the defender apparently telling his central defensive colleague to kick Messi in the back of the thigh after he had walked around off the ball feeling for a problem.
Messi has recently suffered persistent problems in that area, and has only completed 90 minutes on one occasion since picking up a muscle injury in April’s Champions League quarter-final first leg at Paris Saint-Germain.
The Al Jazeera footage quickly spread around the international and Spanish media, with the Uruguay captain being criticised for what appeared to be his unsporting approach. But Godin told Uruguayan radio station Radio 1010 AM in his home country such things were all part of the game.
"These are football gestures and those who play know what they mean," the centre-half said. "I see that he is touching that part of his leg. I made gestures to my team-mates so that they know to put pressure on.”
He said Atletico’s committed approach had been key to their recent success under Argentine coach Diego Simeone. “We go for every ball as if it were the last,” he explained. “That is what has made us winners."
Messi is likely to sit out Barcelona’s La Liga game at Malaga on Saturday, but should be back for the Supercopa second leg against Atletico at the Camp Nou on Wednesday, when Godin can expect a torrid reception from Barcelona supporters.
Wednesday’s first leg finished 1-1, with David Villa opening the scoring against his former side before Barca’s €57 million attacker Neymar equalised as a second half substitute.