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Valverde says Messi the best despite Modric award

Real’s Lopetegui backs VAR

MADRID, Sept 25, (RTRS): Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde believes his player Lionel Messi should have won FIFA’s ‘The Best’ award and not Real Madrid’s Luka Modric. Modric was named the best player of 2018 at a glitzy ceremony on Monday night which Messi did not attend having not made the shortlist, which was completed by Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah. Valverde, however, said Messi should have walked away with the prize and criticised the amount of individual awards creeping into the game.

“Everyone will have an opinion and I’ve got mine,” Valverde told a news conference. “For us, Leo is the best player in the world. It’s a prize that’s called ‘The Best’ and the guy who is, for us, the best player in the world wasn’t there. Modric is a great player who had a great season.

“A few years ago there weren’t so many prizes, but everything has been magnified, there’s so many galas and prizes and each ceremony is something of a pat on the back for those who organise them. There’s too much noise around them. “This is sport and more and more everyday a form of show-business, too.”

Valverde, who was speaking ahead of Wednesday’s visit to Leganes, will be without defender Clement Lenglet, who was shown a disputed red card in their last game against Girona. It was a decision taken following a Video Assistant Referee (VAR) referral and Valverde called for more clarity with the system. “We all want technology to help us and that football is fairer,” he said.

“Especially in clear-cut situations, however right now everything and everyone is adjusting to it. “VAR has got parts that I like more, because it allows you to take a second look at a decisive decision, and another part that isn’t so clear. What makes the red card incident more important than a foul on the edge of the box that isn’t given? “The other day Real Sociedad scored a goal against us from a free kick in the middle of the park that was not a foul. VAR’s there for the big decisions, but incidents in other parts of the game are the same and for me there’s not a big difference between them.” Real Madrid coach Julen Lopetegui has given his backing to Video Assistant Refereeing (VAR) in La Liga after a weekend in which a number of controversial decisions were given in Spain’s top flight.

Barcelona were furious after defender Clement Lenglet was shown a straight red card for an elbow in their 2-2 draw with Girona and a number of players and coach Ernesto Valverde were highly critical of the system. Valencia’s Dani Parejo was also dismissed for an innocuous looking challenge.

But Lopetegui, who benefited from VAR showing Marco Asensio was onside after initially seeing the goal disallowed for his side’s winner against Espanyol, believes it will more often than not help referees. “I’m not going to talk about what others have said on it,” he told a news conference on Tuesday. “It’s obvious that VAR helps a referee see a doubtful decision much clearer.

“Ok, of course it won’t be the panacea for everything because perfection does not exist, but for me it’s a system that helps improve on what he previously had.” Real visit Sevilla’s Sanchez Pizjuan stadium on Wednesday, a ground that has caused the European champions problems down the years. They have lost on their previous three La Liga visits and have not emerged victorious from the Andalusian city since 2015.

They will be without Dani Carvajal and the in-form Isco, who underwent surgery for appendicitis on Tuesday and is likely to be out of action for a month. “He came in today with some pain and it turned out it was appendicitis,” Lopetegui said. “Of course, all absentees are bad news, but after lamenting our luck we’ll need to think who will play instead of him. I’ve got full confidence in the squad.”

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