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Football | Spain

David Villa lifted by Real Madrid players © Action Images

Del Bosque concerned over Real-Barca conflict



Spain coach Vicente del Bosque said on Friday he was worried that the deepening conflict between Real Madrid and Barcelona might affect the ambience within the national team.

"We have a problem," said Del Bosque.

According to sports daily Marca, the Spain coach then talked, off the record, about the "possible damage" being done to the national team by the bitter conflict between the twin giants.

There are eight Barca players and four Real players in Del Bosque's Spain squad, and the manager is clearly concerned as to how this conflict might damage the harmony within the world champions that he, and predessor Luis Aragones, worked so hard to build up.

Aragones led Spain to triumph at Euro 2008, Del Bosque guided La Roja to World Cup glory in 2010.

On Wednesday Real and Barca played out a stormy Champions League semifinal first leg, which Barca won 2-0 with late goals from World Player Lionel Messi.

There was an unsightly scuffle at halftime between the players, in which Barca's reserve keeper Jose Manuel Pinto was sent off.

Then Real had midfielder Pepe sent off for an ugly foul on Barca's Dani Alves. Real coach Jose Mourinho was ordered out of the technical area for protesting Pepe's red card, then furiously accused Barca of receiving "special treatment" from Uefa's referees in an explosive post-match outburst.

On Thursday Uefa opened an investigation into the allegations of Mourinho, who seems likely to receive a three-match touchline ban and a heavy fine.

Barca then announced an official complaint to Uefa about Mourinho allegations.

Real, for their part, have filed a complaint to Uefa claiming that the Barca players, in particular Alves, behaved "in an anti-sporting manner."

On Friday, Madrid papers Marca and AS said that Pepe had not actually made contact with Alves in the red card incident, and openly accused Alves of play-acting.

The headline in Marca was "Cheat!" with a picture of Alves. Marca commented that "it was very strange" to see Alves leave on a stretcher -then return to the match in "perfect condition."

Mourinho said on Friday that "the pictures speak for themselves, I have nothing more to say about this."

Del Bosque, for his part, is clearly worried about the Real-Barca conflict getting even worse when the Big Two meet again - for the fourth time within 18 days - in Tuesday's semifinal second leg.

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