Pepe’s Zidane moment could cost Real dear
Real Madrid’s Portuguese defender Pepe faces a lengthy ban that could extend to the end of the season after he had an astonishing Zinedine Zidane moment against Getafe on Tuesday.
I had the evening off and watched the match in a Madrid bar and the looks of disbelief on the faces of the punters around me reminded me of the reaction to the Frenchman’s headbutt in the World Cup final in Berlin in 2006.
There was less at stake on Tuesday but Pepe’s meltdown could hurt Real badly as he is almost certain to miss next week’s “Clasico” against leaders Barcelona at the Bernabeu and may be unavailable for the remaining four league matches after that. He will also miss Sunday’s match at third-placed Sevilla.
The Brazilian-born defender, who moved to Madrid from Porto for 30 million euros in the summer of 2007, has forged an effective partnership with Fabio Cannavaro in central defence and his absence will severely weaken Real as they attempt to overhaul Barca and clinch a third consecutive title.
For those of you who haven’t seen the incident, which happened with the scores level at 2-2 and three minutes left, Pepe totally lost his cool after pushing over Francisco Casquero and conceding a penalty.
He kicked Casquero once on the ground and raked his studs over the midfielder’s back with a vicious second swipe. In the ensuing melee he struck another Getafe player, Juan Albin, in the face.
As he stormed off the pitch, he said “You are all sons of whores” to the fourth official and then committed a further offence by running back on to celebrate Gonzalo Higuain’s dramatic winner in added time.
It’s not a first sending-off in Real colours for Pepe, who apologised for his actions and said he was not a violent player. He had a nightmare home debut against Sevilla in the Spanish Super Cup in August 2007 when he conceded a penalty and was later red carded. He was also dismissed in the Champions League defeat to Roma in March.
But he has never imploded in quite the same way before and his inexplicable reaction on Tuesday did seem out of character for a usually fair-minded player.
His fate will likely be known by the end of the week and it would be no great surprise if the disciplinary body comes down hard.
FILE PHOTO: Real Madrid’s Pepe gestures during a match against Valencia at the Bernabeu, March 23, 2008. REUTERS/Juan Medina