Atletico Madrid were left baffled by referee Felix Brych's decisions during the Champions League quarter-final first-leg 2-1 defeat to Barcelona. Both Filipe Luis and club chief executive Miguel Ángel Gil Marín hit back at the German official after the game, saying Fernando Torres should have avoided the second yellow card that saw his side reduced to 10 men in the 35th minute of the game – just a minute after the former Chelsea and Liverpool star scored the opener for Los Colchoneros.
Some have even accused Barcelona of having stolen their recent success, after a state emerged showing more players have been sent off against the Catalans than any other club in the Champions League. Atletico fans also claimed that the referee had double standards throughout the rest of the game, as Luis Suarez was lucky to escape a red card after appearing to kick out at Juanfran.
Gil Marín said after the game, as quoted by AS: "Barca don't need this kind of assistance. When things like last night happen it makes us think we can't compete on an equal playing field. Our players don't deserve this. We want to be treated equally. If what Torres did warranted a sending off, then the same criteria should be applied to Luis Suarez. Football cannot be a game where the big teams dictate the rules".
Filipe Luis added in an interview with the Spanish TV: "I think Barcelona are protected because they are a strong club and whatever their opponents do, is going to be heavily punished. In my opinion, it was not fair to send him [Torres] off, and that opened up a lot of space for them to attack, something very important in such a big pitch like this one."
Luis Enrique, Barcelona fans and Sport and Mundo Deportivo, the two biggest Catalan publications, have different views and believe that Torres red card was "very clear".
However, more surprisingly both AS and Marca, the two newspapers based in Madrid and read by Real Madrid fans, also say Torres deserved the red card.
Ildefonso Urizar Azpitarte, a top-flight referee from 1977 to 1991 who is currently a pundit for AS, said: "The German referee correctly showed the Atletico Madrid striker two yellow cards. For the first the striker didn't go for the ball, and brought down Neymar. A fair caution. For the second yellow card, four minutes later, Torres was late in a clumsy challenge from behind on [Sergio] Busquets, where he had no possibility of playing the ball. Again, a challenge worthy of going in the book. Overall both yellow cards were deserved and, therefore, Torres' sending off, to leave Atleti down to 10 men for 65 minutes."
Marca pundit, Andujar Oliver, who is a former international referee, added that "there are no doubts that it was a rightful sending off".
Torres himself said Atletico Madrid are not treated like Barcelona by referees but suggested the decision was unfortunate after all, as he was the one to blame for the defeat.