Paris Saint-Germain head coach Unai Emery has laid a portion of the blame for his side’s Champions League collapse in Barcelona last season at the door of referee Deniz Aytekin.
PSG took a 4-0 lead to Camp Nou for the second leg of the round-of-16 tie but were hammered 6-1 in Catalonia, with Sergi Roberto delivering the decisive blow in stoppage time – one of three Barca goals in the final seven minutes.
The hosts scored two penalties on their way to snatching the memorable 6-5 aggregate win and Emery has criticised the performance of Aytekin in the Champions League classic.
“You have to divide that tie into two parts,” he told Marca. “In the first game we won comfortably against a winning side like Barcelona, and then at the Camp Nou we were not able to respond against the same side.
“There is a third element also which was out of our hands and that was the referee. I am saying that referees, against the biggest club, have more respect. Look, not consciously, but involuntarily.”
PSG face Real Madrid in this season’s last 16 but Emery believes PSG have grown as a club to command more respect around the continent and among officials.
“A year on and that situation has changed for us, and we now have a better capacity to respond against winning teams like Barcelona or Madrid,” he commented.
“There is more respect for us in Europe and the world. Also among the referees there is more respect for us so as to ensure they are the most accurate as possible. We are better prepared than we were against Barcelona last year.”
Reflecting further on last year’s Barca clash, Emery added: “I like to listen to top coaches about how they saw that game. There were a lot of things that went on in it and for me it was something to learn from.
“The responsibility in the end – and I think that the president was clear about it – was shared amongst us all.”