The loss against Athletic Bilbao in the Spanish Super Cup was eventful for a number of reasons. Not only did Barcelona fall to defeat in their second successive final – the last one coming against Valencia in the Copa del Rey in 2018 -, but it was also the first time Lionel Messi picked up a red card in his club career, after 753 matches with Barcelona.
After two days of suspense, the ruling on his red card, which came off an instance of violent conduct, is out – Messi will miss two matches for Barcelona. The first of which comes against UE Cornella in the Copa del Rey on Thursday, and then the La Liga clash against Elche on the weekend.
Messi can be called lucky to escape an extended period of suspension as the official ruling in Spain for a red card following violent conduct spans from four to 12 games.
His return? Against Athletic Bilbao on the 31st of January in the La Liga.
Reports suggest that Ronald Koeman is planning to leave out first-team regulars in the game against UE Cornella either way, which means that the six-time Ballon d’Or winner would have probably been left out of the squad in hope of giving him, and others some rest.
Riqui Puig, Konrad de la Fuente, Samuel Umtiti, Ilaix Moriba among others are in contention to start the game, while Antoine Griezmann, Ousmane Dembele, Frenkie de Jong are expected to start from the bench, if at all.
Elche, who sit 18th in the league will be giving their all at home against the Catalan giants in the hope of leaving the relegation zone. The likes of Griezmann, Dembele, and possibly Pedri will have to step up to the pedestal in the absence of their captain if they want to continue their unbeaten run in the La Liga.
Just in: Neymar’s entourage confirms renewal with PSG as he ‘likes the project’
Fabrizio Romano has broken huge news as part of Neymar’s contract situation with Paris Saint-Germain, which all but officially announces that the Brazilian will be staying in France, contrary to what has been reported recently. The report suggests that that he will sign his extension soon, which is bound to include a massive UCL bonus.
Neymar’s entourage have confirmed his decision to stay with the Paris outfit in conversation with France Football, saying, “Neymar wants to stay at PSG. He sees that the club is growing. He likes the project.”
Neymar is expected to sign soon his new contract with Paris Saint-Germain until June 2026, huge UCL bonus confirmed too. His entourage just announced to France Football: “Neymar wants to stay at PSG. He sees that the club is growing. He likes the project”. 🇧🇷 #PSG https://t.co/LMnrpctSkx— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) April 12, 2021
PSG have, in fact, actually enjoyed success in Europe in the recent past. They reached the Champions League final last season, crumbling only to the unstoppable Bayern Munich by a mere one goal to nil. Since then, they have fired Thomas Tuchel, and hired Mauricio Pochettino, who inspired an incredible victory against Bayern in this season’s Champions League quarters. Spearheaded by Neymar and Mbappe, the capital-side hit the defending champions for three goals, conceding two.
Despite their lead in the UCL, they do not have a stronghold on the trophy with the likes of Manchester City, Chelsea, and Real Madrid still in the running. It becomes a lot more problematic when you realise their situation in Ligue 1.
PSG look far from comfortable in the league, which is a shocker to say the least. As it stands, Pochettino’s mean are in second place with 66 points, three adrift of Lille who top the table with one of the most impressive defensive records in Europe.
A season without either of the big trophies might force Neymar to have a change of mind, with the Barcelona project looking much more comprehensive under Joan Laporta. In fact, the new President might look at the Brazilian as the key that will allow Lionel Messi to stay at the club. We do the same rumours annually, so it is only fair if any of these ‘confirmations’ are turned on their head in the coming weeks.