Brazil captain Thiago Silva has accused his Argentina counterpart Lionel Messi of trying to influence the referee during Friday’s friendly between the sides in Saudi Arabia.
The Barcelona forward scored the only goal in the 13th minute to earn Argentina victory in Riyadh, but that was only half the story in what was a feisty encounter between the two great rivals.
Messi missed Argentina’s previous four matches due to a suspension for accusing CONMEBOL of favouring hosts Brazil – who won their semi-final meeting – at the Copa America in July.
The ill-feeling from that encounter spilled over into Friday’s clash, with Brazil coach Tite claiming Messi told him to ‘shut his mouth’.
Silva has expressed his displeasure with Messi’s behaviour, claiming the 32-year-old was trying to control the game by influencing the referee’s decisions.
The Paris Saint-Germain defender also suggested the referee favoured Messi because of his reputation, something he believes the striker also benefits from in La Liga.
“He wanted to rule over the game. He kicked two people and the referee did nothing. I argued with the ref and he kept laughing. You have to put admiration to one side,” he said.
“He always looks to force the referee to give them free-kicks in dangerous areas, he always acts in that way. We spoke with some players who play in Spain and the same thing happens, he looks to control the game and the referee’s decisions.
“In the Champions League, he doesn’t have that advantage because the referees are tougher. You don’t see him trying to rule so much. There are referees that, because of their admiration for him, start to weigh in on his side. That we didn’t have Neymar on our side was a disadvantage,” he added.
Speaking about Messi’s clash with Tite, Silva accused the forward of lacking respect.
“It’s hard to understand when we talk about respect on the pitch, and one of the most admired players in the world does that,” he said.
“You don’t do that to an older person but being that it was a coach… as much as there is rivalry, respect has to come first,” he explained.