Barcelona handed massive Robert Lewandowski blow amid fresh calls for punishment

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Robert Lewandowski is now facing a three-game ban for Barcelona (Image: Pedro Salado/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)
Robert Lewandowski is now facing a three-game ban for Barcelona (Image: Pedro Salado/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)

Robert Lewandowski has been handed a three-match suspension in La Liga starting with Barcelona ’s clash against Atletico Madrid this weekend.

The 34-year-old striker was initially slapped with a three-match suspension following his red card in Barca's 2-1 win away to Osasuna on November 8. Lewandowski was sent off for just the second time in his prestigious career, having picked up two yellow cards in the first half of the hotly-contested La Liga clash - during which teammate Gerard Pique also saw red, despite not even playing.

The first match of that ban was supposed to be Barca’s Catalan derby clash against Espanyol on New Year’s Eve – their first match since Lewandowski’s dismissal. However, having failed with a series of appeals during the World Cup break, they were informed by a Madrid court last Friday that the striker’s ban had been temporarily lifted, pending a final decision.

Espanyol have subsequently lodged an appeal to the Spanish FA while clarifying that they do not believe the lifting of Lewandowski’s three-match suspension applied to this match – as the striker’s initial one-game ban for a second yellow card was unrelated to Barcelona’s appeals over the additional suspension after the sending off, after his gesture towards the referee after his dismissal.

Lewandowski’s presence did not make a significant difference to Xavi Hernandez’s side, who were surprisingly held to a 1-1 draw by Espanyol as Marcos Alonso’s early goal was cancelled out by a second half penalty from Joselu. It was a potentially damaging game in Barca’s pursuit of the league title.

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Spain’s Administrative Court of Sport decided this Wednesday to uphold Lewandowski’s three-match suspension in La Liga – meaning that Barca’s appeal against the ban has failed. However, the club may risk punishment for his selection in the clash against Espanyol – despite being informed by authorities that the ban was on hold.

Barcelona handed massive Robert Lewandowski blow amid fresh calls for punishmentLewandowski was frustrated in front of goal vs Espanyol on New Year's Eve (Alex Caparros/Getty Images)

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Espanyol stated that they had informed both the Spanish FA and referee Mateu Lahoz ahead of Saturday’s match that Lewandowski should not have been included in Barca’s line-up, and they have now lodged an appeal against his participation in the match. If their complaint is upheld, Barcelona risk losing the one point they took from the match – which would see Real Madrid leapfrog them at the top of La Liga.

Lewandowski will now miss Barca’s upcoming three La Liga matches, starting with this weekend’s tie against third-placed Atletico before missing the games against Getafe and Girona. The Poland marksman netted 13 goals in his first 13 La Liga outings, with his absence likely to be a massive blow for Xavi’s side.

Colin Millar

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