BARCELONA (Reuters) - Barcelona midfielder Sergio Busquets hit out at La Liga’s schedulers after his side beat Atletico Madrid 1-0 on Sunday in a top-of-the-table clash less than 72 hours after playing away in the Canary Islands.
Lionel Messi scored from a free kick to decide the game and take the Catalans eight points clear of Atletico at the top of the standings, although the Liga leaders were pushed all the way by Diego Simeone’s side in a game of few chances which did not live up to the hype.
Atletico were given one day’s rest more than Barca leading up to the game, with Ernesto Valverde’s side facing a three-and-a-half hour flight back from Las Palmas on Thursday after their 1-1 draw, while Simeone’s side had played at home to Leganes the previous day.
“We got back to Barcelona and we had to train without resting. If La Liga wants to be considered the best league in the world, they need to do certain things better,” Busquets told reporters.
“It’s not an excuse; it’s the reality. When we lose, I don’t like to complain but we’ve won today so I’m going to take advantage of the fact (to voice an opinion).”
Barca left back Jordi Alba was suspended against Las Palmas but joined Busquets in complaining about his side’s lack of rest before the crucial game against their nearest challengers for the title.
“They need to fix the calendar,” Alba said. “I was feeling very tired and I didn’t even play in Las Palmas, so imagine what it was like for those who got home at four in the morning on Friday. They need to sort out these little details.”
Barca captain Andres Iniesta started both games and was forced off towards the end of the first half against Atletico with a hamstring injury.
The veteran midfielder will undergo tests on Monday although reports in the Spanish media said he would be out for around three weeks, ruling him out of the Champions League last-16 second leg against Chelsea on March 14.
“Iniesta is a unique player, a little like Messi, so it’s difficult to find a player who can replace him,” Barca coach Valverde said of his captain.
“We’ll wait and see how bad the injury is. He carried on playing at first so we thought it wasn’t too bad but we’re not sure. He was playing incredibly well.”
Editing by Clare Fallon