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Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Iniesta hits back a Pepe dive claims

Dermot Corrigan, Spain Correspondent

Andres Iniesta says that he is "offended" at being called a diver by Pepe, especially considering the Real Madrid defender's previous record.

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After Sunday's 2-2 Clasico draw at the Camp Nou, Pepe accused Iniesta of trying to win a penalty during the game, saying the Barca man "threw himself down and rolled over and over. They are like that, very theatrical."

The World Cup winning midfielder told the show 'Al Primer Toque' on Spanish radio station Onda Cero on Tuesday night that Pepe's comments had been wrong, and out of order.

"Yes, what he said affects you," Iniesta said. "Someone can have an opinion and say it did not seem a penalty to them, but you cannot go further. When someone talks like that about you and your team-mates, you feel offended. I am not an actor. Not me, nor my team-mates."

After Sunday's game Barca coach Tito Vilanova scoffed at Pepe's accusations, saying it would be possible to make a video of all the Portuguese international's kicks.

Catalan papers Mundo Deportivo and Sport duly linked to a YouTube clip showing his various indiscretions over the years (including kicking Getafe's Javier Casquero in the head in 2009 and stamping on Lionel Messi's hand last year) via their websites. Madrid-based AS responded with a story claiming Pepe had suffered more fouls (1.311 per game) than he has conceded (0.951 per game) during recent seasons at Madrid.

Iniesta said all football watchers would already have their opinion of Pepe's on-pitch behaviour.

"If we look at the actions of Pepe in each game, we can have many opinions," he said. "That is his opinion. I believe we all know Pepe already."

The 2-2 draw, in which both Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice, meant Barcelona maintained their eight point advantage in the Primera Division standings.

"I am used to this," Pepe, on international duty with Portugal this week, told reporters Wednesday according to Lisbon-based sports paper A Bola "I only talk about what happened on the pitch. If anyone feels offended, it is because the truth hurts."

Aside from Pepe's comments it was noticeably less controversial than previous clasicos, with players from both teams embracing on the final whistle - including Iniesta and Spanish international colleague Iker Casillas, Real's captain.

"It is what it should have always been," said Iniesta. "Sometimes it was different. But for a while now we have embraced as the team-mates we are. Rivalry always exists, but more than that we are colleagues and have lived through a lot of things together."

Casillas and Iniesta are training together again this week as La Roja prepare for Friday's World Cup 2014 qualifier in Belarus, and then a game at home to France next Tuesday.

Iniesta said that that motivation was not a problem for Vicente del Bosque's all-conquering side despite their recent successes.

"When you have won the European Championships and the World Cup, you are asked to win again, to play well and to achieve success," he said. "It is logical. To feel the obligation to win, and knowing that you are being observed, is a further motivation."




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