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The defender has also revealed that Sandro Rosell stepping down as president has had an impact on the squad but says Neymar is coping well despite the media storm

Barcelona defender Gerard Pique has leapt to the defence of Cristiano Ronaldo by blasting his red card last weekend for Real Madrid.

The Portuguese was sent off in the Blancos' 1-1 draw with Athletic Bilbao a week ago and was slapped with a three-match ban for his actions.

Pique, however, thinks the sending off was the wrong decision and refused to condemn Ronaldo despite Madrid being Barca's bitter rivals.

"I wouldn’t say we were close," the ex-Manchester United man said to El Confidential when asked if he was a big admirer of Ronaldo. "I just like the fact that he is able to express his feelings like he did in his reaction after winning the Ballon d’Or.

"Cristiano is a great player, a fantastic professional. His sending off the other night? I still say it was never a red card - I’m not going to say it was a definite red card just because it’s Real Madrid.

"I try to be objective, in spite of the extremes that you face in football. Cristiano comes across as a decent bloke to me and he is a great professional, that’s all."

Pique also revealed that the Barca squad have been affected by the saga over how much and who Barca paid to sign Neymar, which resulted in Sandro Rosell's resignation as president, but says the players will fight on.

"Yes, it all has an influence," he said of the recent turmoil. "It’s not something entirely new for us because last season, we had the setback of Tito Vilanova’s illness.

"Sometimes it seems that we are unable to relax and focus just on the football but in spite of all that, we are fine and we’re performing well."

Neymar has not featured for Barca since the precise details of his transfer from Santos to Camp Nou were revealed due to an ankle injury, but Pique says the Brazilian forward has not let the media storm get to him.

"It’s affected him less than people think," the Spain international added. "We all try to help the players who are new at the club and that applies particularly to Neymar as he is still only young.

"He has come here from a different club, playing a different style of football - one with much less pressure than the Spanish game. We help him, just like we would with anyone else."

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