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Lionel Messi Stamp Incident Denied by Pau Lopez Ahead of Espanyol vs. Barcelona

BARCELONA, SPAIN - JANUARY 06: Javier Mascherano (14) of FC Barcelona argues with Pau Lopez of Espanyol during the Copa del Rey Round of 16 match between FC Barcelona and Real CD Espanyol at Camp Nou on January 6, 2016 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images)
Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images
Rory MarsdenFeatured ColumnistJanuary 8, 2016

Espanyol goalkeeper Pau Lopez has denied intentionally stamping on Lionel Messi's ankle during Wednesday's tension-filled Copa del Rey last-16 first leg.

During Barcelona's 4-1 victory at the Camp Nou—in which two Espanyol players were sent off—Pau clearly stood on the Argentinian superstar's right leg, per talkSPORT:

However, the 21-year-old stopper insisted there was no malice in the stamp and that he did not do it on purpose, per Spanish outlet Sport:

I've never gone onto a pitch to cause damage to anyone. Anyone who thinks I go out onto a pitch to cause damage to a colleague in this profession does not know me well. Never, not now and not in the future. It was something that happens in the game, like the blow [Arda] Turan dealt to my head—no worries now.

Given that Pau appeared to quickly glance down at Messi's leg before standing on the 28-year-old, many have condemned the goalkeeper's actions, including Spanish football writer Andy West:

Indeed, La Liga expert Alexandra Jonson believes Pau deserves a suspension for his actions:

The second leg of the Copa del Rey tie is set to be played on Jan. 13 at the Estadi Cornella-El Prat and is likely to be another tense affair between the two Barcelona clubs.

Messi netted a double in the first leg, and it would take an extraordinary effort from Espanyol to overturn the three-goal deficit and advance to the quarter-finals of the Copa in Barca's place. 

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