La Liga news

Callejon: Messi called Karanka a 'puppet'

February 1, 2013
By Dermot Corrigan, Spain Correspondent

Lionel Messi accused Real Madrid assistant coach Aitor Karanka of being Jose Mourinho's "puppet" in the aftermath of this week's Copa del Rey clasico, according to Los Blancos winger Jose Callejon.

• Karanka: Real can still compete
• Essien leaves mark on Alba
• Hunter: A festival of football

Callejon was talking to reporters ahead of Madrid's Primera Division trip to Granada on Saturday, but the press conference was mostly concerned with the fallout from Wednesday night's Copa del Rey semi-final first leg clash at the Bernabeu.

The Catalan press reacted to the game by criticising Madrid's players for some over-physical challenges and referee Carlos Clos Gomez for some over-lenient decision making. Meanwhile the Madrid media were claiming that Messi had insulted both Karanka and Madrid defender Alvaro Arbeloa in the Bernabeu car-park after the game.

Callejon said he could confirm the first incident had happened as he had seen it himself.

"I saw the incident with Aitor because I was coming along behind him," Callejon said. "I do not know if he called him a name, but he [Messi] did say that Karanka was Mourinho's puppet.

"About what happened afterwards [with Arbeloa] - on the pitch tempers can flare and you can understand because we all say many things and we can use insults, but when a fellow professional waits an hour after the game to dress down another professional, with his wife beside him, it shows that the good guys are not always so good, nor the bad guys so bad."

Asked about the racist chants aimed at Dani Alves during the game, which the Barcelona right-back drew attention to on Thursday, Callejon claimed Madrid received more abuse than any other club and such abuse took place in all grounds in all countries.

"I believe the club which has suffered the most racist insults in its history is Real Madrid," he said. "It happens in every ground, and in every country. It is deplorable. It is a lost war, but it happens here and in other countries. It is a subject that is worrying and we must try to bring an end to it."

Callejon said Madrid had been happy with the draw, which was secured through Raphael Varane's late header, and kept the tie nicely balanced ahead of the second leg at the Camp Nou in late February.

"The game came out well, there was a lot of football seen," Callejon reflected. "The global media have highlighted it. We made a huge effort because the game had become an uphill battle for us. It went well, we gave our all and the tie remains open."

While the post-Clasico controversy continues, Madrid will need to refocus for Saturday's game. Mourinho will likely make changes to his starting XI, with Mesut Ozil suspended, Sergio Ramos, Angel Di Maria and Fabio Coentrao back from their bans and Luka Modric, Marcelo and Gonzalo Higuain also options to freshen things up.

The Portuguese must also decide whether to recall Antonio Adan in goal, or stick with Diego Lopez, after the former Villarreal and Sevilla goalkeeper impressed on his second Madrid debut on Wednesday evening.

Granada, who this week changed their coach and added a number of players to their squad including €2.3 million playmaker Diego Buonanotte from Malaga, are currently embroiled in a relegation battle and sit 17th, just two points outside the drop zone.

But Callejon said that Madrid, currently 15 points off leaders Barca in the table, needed the points just as badly themselves.

"It will be a difficult game," Callejon said. "They have brought in three or four new players, they need points and when every team plays against Madrid they come out at 200 per cent to win. We need points ourselves to cut the gap in the league. We are confident."