Barcelona manager Ronald Koeman has backed the club’s decision to appeal Lionel Messi’s suspension following the Argentinian’s red card against Athletic Club in the Supercopa de Espana final.
With Barcelona trailing 3-2 in injury time, Messi’s run was blocked off by Asier Villalibre and the forward responded by striking the Athletic Club striker round the back of the head.
The incident was not initially seen, but after the referee consulted the VAR monitor, Messi was shown a straight red card – the first of his club career.
Despite reports suggesting the six-time Ballon d’Or winner could be slapped with up to a 12-game ban, the Spanish Football Federation Competition Committee deemed a two-game suspension sufficient – but Barcelona have announced their intention to appeal and this has been supported by Koeman.
“The club has told me that they do not agree on it and we will see,” said the Barcelona manager (via Blaugranagram.) “There are things that can be defended and it is a matter for the club, hopefully they will reduce the sanction, otherwise we will play two games without Messi.
“He has trained without problems this morning and it means that he has recovered well from the last game and will be good to play when he has to play after his suspension.”
With his two game suspension, Messi is currently poised to miss Barcelona’s Copa del Rey last 32 tie against Segunda B outfit Cornella on Thursday evening, followed by Sunday’s La Liga clash with struggling Elche.
He would then be in contention to return the following Sunday for Barcelona’s league meeting with Athletic Club – the side against whom he initially incurred his suspension.
Barcelona currently sit third in La Liga – seven points behind leaders Atletico Madrid – after another turbulent season on and off the pitch.