Barcelona's Gerard Pique has hit out at Catalan rivals Espanyol after he scored in their 1-1 draw on Sunday amid abuse from their fans, and he could also be out for up to a month with an injury suffered in the clash.
Per Moises Llorens of AS, Pique motioned to silence the crowd after he equalised for Barcelona in the 83rd minute, placing his fingers to his lips at the RCDE Stadium.
The Spaniard said:
"Celebrating the goal was special, after all that has happened during the week. There was a sizeable part of their fans who have been going for me and my family for a while. I know that a lot of [Espanyol fans] are good people. But if those above them, those who run things, don't put a stop to the songs, then they'll stay the same. We're people and everyone has a limit. This is a derby and that's how it is. The rain made it all more intense."
Given the chants aimed at Pique throughout the match, ESPN's Samuel Marsden understood the motivation behind his celebration:
Samuel Marsden @samuelmarsden
Had to be him. You can't blame Pique for telling the Espanyol fans to be quiet as he equalises for Barça.2018-2-4 16:54:21
Barcelona knocked their local rivals out of the Copa del Rey in January, after which Pique stirred up tensions by referring to them as "Espanyol de Cornella."
The club play their matches in Cornella, a suburb of Barcelona, and so Pique seemingly suggested they are not city rivals to the Blaugrana.
The defender added: "They're from Cornella, like I said the other day. The lack of respect is that they report me for saying they're from Cornella, but they don't report their own fans for insulting my family."
Pique's header cancelled out Gerard Moreno's opener in biblical conditions as the players battled the pitch as well as each other in a tumultuous contest.
The 31-year-old often finds the net against Espanyol, per Sky Sports Statto:
Sky Sports Statto @SkySportsStatto
Barcelona set a new club record for an unbeaten start to a league season - Gerard Pique’s equaliser means they are now unbeaten in their opening 22 La Liga games It was Pique’s 6th goal v Espanyol - not scored more than 3 against any other team https://t.co/k6GJ9eyj8a2018-2-4 17:15:10
According to Llorens, as a result of late challenge from Moreno, the centre-back was subjected to tests on Monday and could miss the rest of February.
Sports journalist David Cartlidge was critical of Moreno for the tackle:
David Cartlidge @davidjaca
Moreno knew what he was doing there. That is an appalling challenge on Piqué. Premeditated.2018-2-4 16:58:13
The injury comes at a bad time for Barcelona, who face Chelsea in the UEFA Champions League on February 20.
Fellow defender Thomas Vermaelen is also on the sidelines, so manager Ernesto Valverde may have to throw January signing Yerry Mina in at the deep end.
The Colombian arrived from Palmeiras last month but is yet to make his debut for Barcelona.