Messi misses two games

Lionel Messi was sent off in Barcelona’s Spanish super cup final defeat against Athletic Club. The Argentine international and footballing icon was seen to strike out at Asier Villalibre and was duly dismissed with a straight red card.

Messi sees red for an off-the-ball swing. pic.twitter.com/PAW8cm95OR

— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) January 17, 2021

Spanish outlet Marca have published the referee’s description of the incident involving the Barca captain.

“At minute 120 the player (10) Lionel Messi was sent off for the following reason: Hitting an opponent with his arm using excessive force while the ball was in play but not at a distance from being played,” wrote match official Gil Manzano.

However, despite the straight red card, Messi will only miss two games instead of the four which he could have missed had the incident been deemed overly aggressive. This means he will miss matches in the Copa del Rey against Cornella, the lower league side who knocked out La Liga leaders Atletico Madrid, and a league match against Elche.

This would ironically mean that he would return for his next league match to play Athletic Club once again. Maybe the Argentine will look at the opportunity as a chance to pay back his debt for getting sent off in the Super Cup final.

Koeman understands

The red card had little bearing on the game’s outcome with it coming in the 121st minute of the match, still being 3-2 down. Perhaps this is why head coach Ronald Koeman was very understanding of the incident and spoke of how he felt the player had been fouled over and over again which ultimately led to the reaction from Messi.

“I can understand what Messi did,” Koeman said. “I don’t know how many times they fouled him, and it’s normal to react when they keep trying to foul you as a player who is looking to dribble with the ball, but I need to see it again properly.”

Lionel Messi suspension set at just two games for straight red card in Barcelona’s loss to Athletic Club

, SPAIN – DECEMBER 22: Clement Lenglet of FC Barcelona celebrates 0-1 with shirt of Wague of FC Barcelona during the La Liga Santander match between Real Valladolid v FC Barcelona on December 22, 2020 (Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images)

This would have been an opportunity to win a piece of silverware for the first time since the 2019 La Liga championship. Plenty of money has been spent since then on the likes of Antoine Griezmann, but Koeman believes that it is in fact the defensive area of the pitch that needs to improve.

“We’re sad and disappointed but I still think we’re on the right path and we’re improving,” Koeman added.

“We have to improve defensively. We must be more committed. We can’t let players turn, shoot and pass. But I am giving everything. I’m not the worst coach now just like I am not the best after a win, but it’s a tough one to take.”

Barca have been missing Gerard Pique for some time now and looked vulnerable at the back. With the presidential elections still to come, signings in the current winter window are unlikely until the direction of the organisation has been resolved.

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