‘Real top because of performances, not referees’
Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane launched a passionate defence of his team on Tuesday amid accusations the La Liga leaders have benefited from favourable refereeing decisions this season following their 3-2 win at Villarreal on Sunday.
Real were awarded a fiercely contested penalty while trailing 2-1 at Villarreal for a handball by Bruno Soriano which the midfielder insisted was accidental, prompting a furious response from club president Fernando Roig towards the referee.
Spanish sports daily Marca said the referees' committee had denounced Roig's comments to the Spanish soccer federation, which could see him fined up to 1,500 euros.
Barcelona defender Gerard Pique meanwhile wrote on Twitter that Real had earned eight extra points this campaign due to dubious refereeing decisions.
Real top the standings on 55 points, one ahead of Barcelona and with a game in hand, but Zidane said his side were leaders because of their displays on the pitch and not favourable treatment from officials.
"Everyone can say what they want but it is not true, we've got everything we have achieved from what we have done on the pitch," Zidane told a news conference on Tuesday on the eve of Real's game with Las Palmas.
"I'm proud of my players because they always respect referees, Real Madrid has always been professional and respectful. If we have to talk, we do it on the pitch."
Real's record signing Gareth Bale has recovered from an ankle knock which forced him off towards the end of the win at Villarreal and set alarm bells ringing after he had recently returned from almost three months out following ankle surgery.
Bale has been named in the squad for the visit of Las Palmas although midfield anchor Casemiro has been rested following a lacklustre display against Villarreal, which lead to him being substituted for Isco while Real were trailing 2-0.
Click the link below to see what our coach had to say before tomorrow night's visit of @UDLP_english!https://t.co/8UEMnjNoCz
Real Madrid C.F. (@realmadriden) February 28, 2017