MESSI: Reactions as Barcelona talisman sees first red with club, faces four match ban

Ronald Koeman defended Lionel Messi after the Argentine star received the first red card of his Barcelona career.

Messi could face a four-match ban after being sent off for taking a swipe at Athletic Bilbao’s Asier Villalibre in Sunday’s Spanish Supercopa final.

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Barca lost 3-2 despite twice taking the lead through Antoine Griezmann, who afterwards said he was “p***ed off” at what transpired in Seville.

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Koeman said he could empathise with Messi’s frustration, saying the 33-year-old was fouled constantly during the clash against Athletic.

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“I can understand what Messi did,” said Koeman, quoted by ESPN.

“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.”

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Messi will now be suspended for two games, but the ban could be doubled when the Royal Spanish Football Federation’s competition committee meet this week to discuss it.

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The forward will miss Thursday’s Copa de Rey trip to face third-tier Cornella and Sunday’s La Liga game away to Elche.

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He could also miss the next round of the Copa if Barca progress, and the visit of Bilbao in La Liga on January 31.

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