Ronaldo whine takes sheen off Real Madrid win over Barcelona
Portuguese star claims he is being 'persecuted' after five-match ban for pushing a referee
Real Madrid beat Barcelona 2-0 at the Bernabeu on Wednesday night to win the Spanish Super Cup 5-1 on aggregate, but some of the gloss was taken of their success by a petulant whine from the suspended Cristiano Ronaldo.
The Portuguese striker was hit with a five-match ban for his antics in the first leg, when he pushed referee Ricardo de Burgos Bengoetxea after receiving a red card for diving (having been shown a yellow card a few minutes before). Ronaldo was subsequently found guilty of using "mild force" against an official, fined and suspended for five matches - one for the two yellow cards and four for laying hands on an official.
Instead of accepting his punishment, Ronaldo launched an appeal, which was heard on Wednesday by a Spanish football federation (RFEF) committee. They upheld the original punishment, resulting in Ronaldo missing the second leg, as well as Real's upcoming league matches against Deportivo La Coruña, Valencia, Levante and Real Sociedad.
The decision infuriated Ronaldo, who vented his fury in an extraordinary Instagram post in which he said: "It's impossible to stay quiet in this situation, five matches! To me it seems exaggerated and ridiculous, this is what you call persecution! Thanks to my team-mates and to the fans for the support."
Real's coach, Zinedine Zidane, supported his player, telling the club's official website: "I am, and we are, very upset. I'm not going to get involved with the referees but, after what happened, to think that he'll not play for five games makes you think that something isn't right. It's too long for him. I have been very clear in my response. What happened, happened, but when you look at the fact that Cristiano Ronaldo has got five matches, you have to admit that it is a lot."
While the ban may be "too long for Ronaldo" it clearly hasn't affected his teammates, who inflicted another defeat on Barcelona, thanks to goals from Marco Asensio and Karim Benzema.
While Real look forward to the start of La Liga this weekend, for Barcelona there is already talk of a crisis within the club. New coach Ernesto Valverde, who replaced Luis Enrique in the summer, has an ageing squad and with Neymar having been sold to PSG last month, there is a lack of cutting edge to his team.
Nonetheless he struck a bullish tone in his post-match conference when asked if was feeling apprehensive ahead of Sunday's league opener against Real Betis. "We don't feel inferior, not to Madrid, not to Atletico, not to Bayern, or anyone," he declared. "Nothing is impossible and we'll stick to our idea of winning the game. We're not giving it up as lost beforehand."