Copa del Rey

Pepe in frame for El Clasico return leg

January 25, 2012
By ESPNsoccernet staff

Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho has included controversial defender Pepe in his squad for Wednesday night's Copa del Rey quarter-final second leg against Barcelona at the Nou Camp.

Pepe
GettyImagesPepe apologised for his conduct

• No action over Pepe stamp on Messi

Pepe was branded "shameful" and "embarrassing" in the Spanish press following a fiery first leg, which Real lost 2-1 in Madrid, after he pretended to have been hit in the face by Cesc Fabregas and then stamped on the hand of Lionel Messi.

The Portugal international subsequently issued an apology, insisting the clash with Messi, which was missed at the time by the referee, was unintentional and on Monday he escaped punishment over the incident from the Spanish FA (RFEF).

Pepe missed Sunday's Primera Division match against Athletic Bilbao through injury but Mourinho confirmed in his Copa del Rey press conference that the 28-year-old would play on Wednesday if fit.

Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola has urged the fans not to vocalise their unhappiness with the defender's antics in the first leg as his side concentrate on reaching the semi-finals.

"Let's leave Pepe in peace," Guardiola said. "If his coach plays him, we will forget what has happened. Nobody should think that we are already qualified. We are half-way there, but Madrid can still knock us out. I have a feeling they will score, so we will have to score too."

Lassana Diarra and Esteban Granero have also been named in Mourinho's 22-man squad alongside Pepe. Sami Khedira and Angel Di Maria miss out through injury.