Gerard Pique and Antoine Griezmann’s frustration boiled over into an on-pitch argument as Barcelona were beaten 4-1 by Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League on Tuesday.
Pique, making his first appearance since suffering a right knee injury in November, screamed at his teammates to “keep the f—ing ball longer” as they prepared to defend a corner. Griezmann responded by telling him to calm down.
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“F—ing hell, Grizi,” Pique shot back. “No. M———–. We’re suffering. We’ve been [pinned] back for five minutes. F—ing hell, we’re running like crazy.”
Griezmann replied: “Don’t shout at me, m———–! I am suffering as well and I am running like crazy.”
The two eased off when goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen reminded his teammates of their defensive duties as PSG got ready to take the set play.
The argument took place just before half-time, when the score was still 1-1 after Kylian Mbappe had cancelled out Lionel Messi’s penalty.
PSG, and especially Mbappe, eased through the gears after the break, with the striker completing his hat trick and Moise Kean also on target as the Ligue 1 champions took a huge step toward the quarterfinal ahead of the return leg in Paris on March 10. The defeat evoked memories of recent European losses to Roma, Liverpool and Bayern Munich.
Griezmann has since returned to France after Barca players were given two days off following the defeat, causing controversy among the local media. When he was accosted by reporters at the airport late on Tuesday, the Barca forward told them it was none of their business where he was going.
Defeat to PSG leaves Barca on the brink of a second consecutive trophy-less season. They are eight points behind Atletico Madrid in La Liga having played one game more and 2-0 down to Sevilla in their Copa del Rey semifinal tie.
Despite that, coach Ronald Koeman said it is “crazy” to suggest he should consider stepping down and reminded supporters that it will take time to see the benefit of the changes Barca are undergoing.
“We lack things, sure, but I have never thought before this game that we didn’t,” he said. “It is not the end of the path. It seems I am more realistic than everyone else.”
Koeman’s comments came on the same day former midfielder Xavi Hernandez, coaching Al-Sadd in Qatar, reiterated his desire to take over at Camp Nou in the future.
“Everyone sees me as the Barca coach one day,” Xavi said. “I respect Barca a lot and I also have respect for Koeman, the current coach.
“But I hope [to return as coach]. I won’t hide that, but with respect for the current management team at the club, who are in the middle of [three] competitions, and I wish them the best.”
A new president will be elected at Camp Nou on March 7 and, depending on results, could decide to appoint his own coach.
“We will see who comes in as president in the next month,” Xavi added. “But of course, it’s a dream to coach Barca. There’s no doubt about that.”