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Luis Enrique questions referee but is rotation to blame for Barceloan's defeat at Málaga?

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There are questions to answer after a damaging defeat

FC Barcelona v Sevilla FC - La Liga Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images

Barcelona’s title hopes in La Liga took an almighty dent on Saturday night after a damaging defeat to Málaga which saw Luis Enrique’s side miss the chance to move level on points with Real Madrid.

In a game full of incidents, Luis Suárez, the world’s best No.9 on Wednesday, missed three one-on-one chances, while Neymar picked up his first Barcelona red card and Sergi Roberto was denied a late penalty. It was that kind of evening.

Lucho branded the result “unfair”, hitting out at the match officials for Neymar’s two bookings and claimed his side should have been given a spot kick.

"I think the interpretation of yellow cards is special," he said. "We have to take a lot of care in these types of games because I think there were ugly challenges from behind which clearly deserved bookings; other things such as tying your boots... If we book players for this, we have to book players for everything.

"It's curious that a team like us that doesn't usually kick people get so many yellow cards in such an incomprehensible manner.

"Then there are players on the other team that during the game commit fouls and don't get any cards. It's curious, but we're used to it."

"I don't understand how the foul on Sergi Roberto was given outside the box.”

While the game was full of debatable decisions, Lucho’s team selection also deserves to come under scrutiny in what was a must-win game following Madrid’s derby draw to Atletico earlier in the day.

With los Blancos dropping points, it was absolutely crucial for Barça to win and the game demanded Lucho start his strongest side, despite the fact that Juventus are up next on Tuesday.

However, Andres Iniesta who was simply superb against Sevilla in midweek was again left on the bench while Andre Gomes, Denis Suarez and Jeremy Mathieu all started and contributed directly to the result.

Mathieu was to blame for Malaga’s, first goal playing Sandro onside, while Gomes wasted a glorious opportunity to score and Denis was gone by half-time, replaced by Iniesta.

Sergi Roberto was summoned at the interval and made a difference with Paco Alcácer also introduced but it was too little too late for Barça whose four Liga defeats have now come against Alavés, Celta, Deportivo and Málaga – only Celta are in the top half and only just.

A trip to Juventus now awaits and with La Liga starting to slip out of reach the focus must surely be on the Champions League, Tuesday’s teamsheet should make for interesting reading.