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Much has been written and discussed about Wednesday's controversial Champions League semi-final first leg at the Bernabeu, now read what Goal.com's expert panel thinks

The contentious dismissal of Real Madrid defender Pepe during the 2-0 Clasico defeat to Barcelona in the first leg of the Champions League semi-final last Wednesday became the talking point of an eventful, fiery encounter.

The red card sparked a chain of controversial events, starting with Jose
Mourinho being banished from the dugout, his subsequent vitriolic rant during his post-match press conference, Barcelona's 'unprecedented' decision to lodge a formal report to Uefa in regards to Mourinho's statements, which in turn led to Real Madrid's own complaint to the governing body for unsportsmanlike behaviour from the Barca players.

The sending off not only dramatically changed the game at the Santiago Bernabeu, but it will also have a significant effect on the return leg at Camp Nou as far as team selection is concerned and how each side will punch and counterpunch one another.

As we approach the final chapter of this biblical quartet of Clasicos over the past fortnight, there is still debate raging as to whether all this commotion could have been avoided; debate over whether Pepe's foul on Dani Alves really warranted a straight red card.

Now, some of Goal.com's editors have given us their views on the controversy. We asked them if the challenge should have been:

i) a red card;
ii) a yellow card;
iii) just a foul;
iv) not a foul at all.

Peter Staunton, Goal.com International Deputy Editor: RED CARD
"In my opinion it was a red card all day. Pepe was late, aggressive and over the top. Both of his feet were off the ground by the time his challenge met Dani Alves. The use of excessive force and the reckless nature of the challenge mean, for me, that it was 100 per cent deserved. It does not justify the actions of Alves, who clearly simulated the effects of the foul. However, had he not taken evasive action and shirked the challenge, he could have had his leg broken."

Andre Baibich, Goal.com Brazil Chief Editor: YELLOW CARD
"For me it's a yellow. It is common for players to do the same type of movement that Pepe did when the opponent is preparing to clear the ball. The difference was that Pepe's challenge was a little too close to Alves. It was certainly a dangerous play, but I didn't see the intention to hurt the opponent."

Ben Hayward, Goal.com International Spain Editor: YELLOW CARD
"I can't understand how the tackle can be described as late because Pepe got the ball and replays show there was no actual contact. I can't see how it can be a red card either if no contact was made. The tackle was perhaps a little reckless and over-eager, but this was a Clasico and the desire to win is intense. Pepe is clearly no angel, but I see no intent to hurt Alves here and handing out red cards for such challenges sets a dangerous precedent. A yellow at most."

Francois Duchateau, Goal.com Germany Chief Editor: YELLOW CARD
"I would have shown a yellow, but probably a more 'orange' one. In comparison to other scenes of the match, Pepe's intention was to get the ball, but of course he went too rude into the battle and could have hurt Alves. I think (referee) Stark also wanted and had to react to the dirty atmosphere on the pitch and this was his stop signal. He wanted to de-escalate, but I think he over-reacted and so the match became imbalanced. But Stark's decision is inside the rules, but he interpreted it quite on the hard side." 

Steven Saunders, Goal.com UK Chief Editor: RED CARD
"It was a red card, not least because of the intent of the challenge. It wasn't a violent challenge, but it was late, high and potentially dangerous. That is enough to warrant a red card in the laws of the game, regardless of any damage inflicted on an opponent. The reaction of Dani Alves and the Barcelona players was lamentable, but that does not change the fact that Pepe's challenge was stupid - he should not have given the referee a decision to make."

Goal.com also ran a poll immediately after the game on Wednesday, asking readers if Pepe deserved to be sent off. With close to 30,000 votes cast overall, the final tally tipped in favour of the Portuguese as 16,609 of the voters believed that the Madrid No. 3 should not have been dismissed. The results of the poll can be seen below.

Do you agree with the results and with the views of our editors?

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Poll of the day

Should Real Madrid's Pepe have been sent off against Barcelona?

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