How Real Madrid have been hurt by robbery accusations

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There is anger within the club at claims that they benefit from refereeing decisions following last week's controversy in the Champions League

Real Madrid are not happy. Accusations of "robbery" against Juventus last week have left the Spanish side angry and concerned about possible repercussions in their European Cup semi-final tie versus Bayern Munich later this month.

The 12-time winners made it through to the last four of the Champions League thanks to a controversial penalty in stoppage time last Wednesday after they had thrown away their three-goal lead from the first leg in Turin.

Furious protests from Juventus players followed, with goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon sent off for insulting referee Michael Oliver, his ire in full evidence after the game when he said: "A human being cannot destroy dreams like that at the end of an extraordinary comeback. Clearly you cannot have a heart in your chest, but a bin."

Later, he told a radio station: "You have to be a murderer to make the last two decisions the referee made." Meanwhile, there was also an angry exchange between Spanish and Italian journalists in the press box at the Bernabeu, while Juve players confronted their Real counterparts and the officials in the tunnel after the final whistle.

And after the award of the penalty (for a challenge by Medhi Benatia on Lucas Vazquez), the spot-kick itself was delayed for a full five minutes as Juve's players protested and amid the furore, defender Giorgio Chiellini waved imaginary money at the referee in an apparent match-fixing claim. "It's the biggest robbery I have suffered in my career," he said later.

The following day, Barcelona-based national paper Sport led with a front page story on the controversy and pointed the finger at Real Madrid with the headline "Robbery of the century", following up with another in their Friday edition: "Worldwide indignation".

In Italy, of course, there were many such stories and that was perhaps to be expected, but Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri described the spot-kick after the match as a "grey-area penalty" and added: "To cry right now is useless."

Earlier on in the game, Isco had seen a strike of his ruled out for a marginal offside decision which many believed should have stood. And on Friday, the midfielder hit out at a Spanish radio station for two very different interpretations of Madrid's win over Juventus and Barca's controversial comeback victory versus Paris Saint-Germain last season. "One profession. Two measuring sticks," he wrote. "Shameful."

Zidane robbery quote

And ahead of his side's game against Malaga at the weekend, Zidane also took a swipe at the club's detractors. "I don't mind if people give their opinions about the penalty," he said. "But I'm angry with the robbery accusations.

"People are upset with our achievements. There are people who are anti-Real Madrid.

"But nobody is going to change the history of the biggest club in the world. They can say or write what they want. It's not normal, all this debate around the penalty. It's all too much."

And after the 2-1 win in Malaga on Sunday, Lucas said: "It hurts people to see us in the semi-finals eight years in a row. It creates envy with people that we have to learn to live with. Many people are happy about our misfortune."

Lucas Vazquez Medhi Benatia Juventus Real Madrid UEFA Champions League

"It was a penalty, that's clear," he added. "The penalty is being discussed more in Spain than it is in Italy."

Meanwhile, club captain Sergio Ramos was asked on his way out of the ground on Sunday about the incident and subsequent reaction, and simply said: "There is antimadridismo (an anti-Real Madrid sentiment)."

Madrid now face Bayern in the last four of the Champions League and that tie has been spiced up by midfielder Arturo Vidal, who tweeted about "revenge being best served cold" after he was sent off in the second leg of last season's quarter-final tie between the two teams, which featured a series of controversial incidents including two offside goals by Cristiano Ronaldo.

Vidal accused Madrid of "robbery" after his side's 4-2 loss in extra time a year ago, along with several other Bayern players, but there were also a number of decisions that went in favour of the German side in that game and Madrid feel the narrative is one-sided.

Vidal Madrid

Zidane and the Madrid players are frustrated that their triumphs have been played down by talk of officials, dodgy decisions, the coach's luck and easy draws, instead of praise for winning back-to-back Champions League crowns and three of the last four competitions overall in a run that has seen them reach the semi-finals for eight seasons in a row.

On Tuesday, the front page of Marca read: "Madrid are worried that robbery accusation will cause them harm against Bayern." And when the nation's top-selling sports paper, based in the capital, prints such a story, it is because that information has come from the very top at Real.

Madrid are indeed concerned at a possible backlash from the referee and assistants against Bayern, worried that the controversy could condition the officiating in that tie amid all the talk of "robbery" in the aftermath of their last-gasp win over Juventus last week.

Deniz Aytekin Barcelona PSG UCL

There is also, as Isco intimated in his tweet, a feeling at Real that there are double standards in the treatment of Barca and Madrid. While Marca (based in the capital) hailed last year's win over PSG as "apoteósico" (tremendous or amazing) despite some controversial calls in that comeback, Sport (from Catalunya) spoke of "robbery" and "indignation" on Thursday and Friday.

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If anything, however, it is likely to make Madrid's players all the more determined to group together and lift an unprecedented third successive Champions League crown next month, perhaps channelling the words of their most famous player in a social media post of his from 2015.

"Your love makes me strong," he wrote back then. "Your hate makes me unstoppable."

And by beating Bayern and claiming their 13th European Cup in Kiev, Madrid can yet have the last laugh following all this talk of robbery and ill-gotten gains.

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