By Tim Stannard
Barcelona boss, Quique Setien, hits out at Real Madrid's VAR favoritism with LaLiga's title race set to go down to the wire
By Sports Burst's calculations, the first public complaint about referees and VAR in the Barcelona-Real Madrid rivalry was made just eight days into the restart of LaLiga.
Gerard Pique (naturally) was the first to hint at biased impropriety after Barcelona's draw against Sevilla last Friday which should have seen Lionel Messi sent off and subsequently suspended after pushing Diego Carlos, to the ground.
Just eight days between, the 'we're so happy to be back' and the normal 'they've got it in for us' phase so beloved by Barcelona and Real Madrid fans. Such giddy days of summer.
After a number of VAR interventions were involved in Real Madrid's 2-1 win over Real Sociedad on Sunday that largely went in Madrid's favor, even Quique Setien was at it with more hints and inferences on Monday ahead of Barcelona's league clash with Athletic Club.
"Regarding [the Madrid] game, everyone has seen how it has been and everyone will make the assessments that are appropriate," noted Setien, who supported Pique's inferences that Real Madrid would not be dropping any points anytime soon - "Pique, not now but always, has always seemed a very intelligent person."
However it came to pass, Real Madrid and Barcelona are now tied at the top of the table with eight games to go, with Madrid holding the upper hand due to a better head-to-head record.
Barca has the chance to lob the ball of pressure back into Real Madrid's side of the court in Tuesday's clash against Athletic Club, the team that defeated the Camp Nou club on the opening day of LaLiga this season, which feels like it was back in 2017.
Coverage of that game gets underway on beIN SPORTS at 3:30PM ET and is preceded by Atletico Madrid looking to set up base camp in third with a win in a clash at Levante.
The Sports Burst live show will be all over the VAR conspiracies at 12PM ET on the beIN SPORTS Facebook page and beIN XTRA channel where fans of both Madrid and Barca can have lively, yet friendly chats on the tactical merits of their teams.
Jose Mourinho backs 'Hero Kane'
Jose Mourinho has found a soccer player who is his Kryptonite.
A footballer who can't be thrown under the bus, used as a stooge or a blame game target such as Pedro Leon, Gonzalo Higuain, Iker Casillas, Luke Shaw and Paul Pogba in the past.
That figure is Harry Kane. Despite the England striker running around for 94 minutes having only beaten Hugo Lloris for touches on the ball in the last match against Manchester United, Mourinho says that he should be renamed 'Hero Kane.'
"He had a big surgery, has a lockdown that stopped the perfect rehabilitation, because it did, so with all the difficulties, then come to normal training only for a couple of weeks," enthused Mourinho ahead of today's Premier League tie against West Ham United.
Meanwhile, Sergio Aguero could be out for the rest of the season having picked up a knee injury in Manchester City's win over Burnley on Monday. "I'm not a doctor, but it doesn't look good," admitted Pep Guardiola.
Orlando Pride withdraw from Challenge Cup after 10 positive COVID-19 tests
The NWSL Challenge Cup has suffered a major blow just five days before it was due to start in Utah. Orlando Pride have withdrawn from the tournament after six players and four staff members tested positive for COVID-19.
"This is a decision that was made in order to protect the health of all involved in the Challenge Cup," said Orlando Pride executive vice president Amanda Duffy in a club statement on Monday.
100% but when another player comes out and says “majority” of the team worked their asses off.... seems to say otherwise... https://t.co/pxITRy52Dm— Kaylyn Kyle (@KaylynKyle) June 22, 2020
The team had yet to travel to Utah for the Challenge Cup which starts on Saturday and is the first professional team sports league to resume competition in the States.
Orlando is set to be the host location for an MLS tournament and the completion of the NBA season, a situation that was already causing concern to participants due to rising COVID-19 cases in Florida.