- Lionel Messi picked up his first ever red card during the Spanish Super Cup Final.
- Messi was suspended for two games by the Spanish Soccer Federation as a result of his actions.
- It marked the first time that Messi received a ban in his club football career.
Lionel Messi was suspended for two matches on Tuesday after receiving the first red card of his Barcelona career during Sunday’s Spanish Super Cup defeat to Athletic Bilbao.
The Barca captain was facing up to a 12-game ban for swinging his arm at Athletic Bilbao’s Asier Villalibre at the end of his team’s 3-2 loss. But the Spanish Soccer Federation’s Competitive Committee didn’t deem the incident too serious and applied only a two match ban.
First-Ever Red Card
Lionel Messi picked up his first ever red card for Barcelona tonight. ?#Supercopa pic.twitter.com/UT9eWxIiRX
— 90min (@90min_Football) January 17, 2021
This wasn’t the first time that Messi has been sent off. A few seconds into his debut for Argentina in a 2005 friendly against Hungary, he received his first red card. He was also ejected in a 2019 Copa America match against Chile. Messi also picked up a dismissal while playing for Barca B in 2005. However, Saturday’s red card was his first in Lionel Messi’s club football career.
The 33-year old from Rosario, Argentina has spent his entire professional career with FC Barcelona and has been a mainstay in the senior club since 2005. Messi has helped the club win a total of 33 trophies including 10 La Liga titles, four UEFA League championships, and six Copas del Rey. The six-time Ballon ‘Or winner is considered as one of the greatest player of all-time and in 753 previous matches played for Barca, he had never been given a red card.
Barcelona head coach Koeman defended Messi’s actions, calling it an act of frustration. Barca had a nine-game unbeaten run heading to that match and two early goals by Antoine Griezmann looked to give Barca its first trophy under Koeman. However, Villalibre scored a equalizer in the 90th minute and sent the game to extra time and Inaki Williams’ 94th minute strike gave Athletic the lead. The win marked the third game of Athletic head coach Marecelino and their first trophy since their 2015 win over Barcelona at the Spanish Supercopa.
With Excessive Force
Breaking: Messi has been handed a two-match ban for his red card in the Spanish Super Cup final on Sunday. pic.twitter.com/Uay96EEuC2
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) January 19, 2021
In his match report, referee Gil Manzano said that Messi hit Villalibre “with excessive force” while the ball was not near him. Video footages clearly show that Messi swung his right arm at Villalibre’s head as they head toward the box. Villalibre immediately fell to the ground and Messi even approached him, as if to check his pulse if he was still alive:
Lionel Messi has been banned for two games… for the moment. #bbcfootball #Barca
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) January 19, 2021
As it stands now, Messi will miss two matches. Barcelona’s next assignment will be against third division club Cornella in the Copa del Rey on Thursday. Barca is a big -450 betting favorite to win that match at Bet365’s 1X2 odds market and Messi was expected to miss that match anyway with coach Ronald Koeman trying to keep his captain’s minutes down.
Messi will also sit out Barcelona’s La Liga match against Elche next weekend. Online sportsbook Bet365 also have the Catalan Giants as -275 odds on favorite to win that match in the 1X2 odds market. Had the ban been longer, he could’ve also missed the next round of the Copa if Barca progresses and the match against Athletic at Camp Nou on January 31st.