Monday, February 6, 2023

Lewandowski gets shock Barca all-clear to face Espanyol as ban goes on hold

SoccerNews in La Liga 30 Dec 2022

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Robert Lewandowski is clear to face Espanyol in Saturday’s derby after Barcelona secured a temporary injunction in a Madrid court, putting the striker’s three-match ban on hold.

Poland international Lewandowski was shown two yellow cards in the first half of Barca’s last match before the World Cup break – a 2-1 win at Osasuna on November 8.

The Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) issued Lewandowski with an extended three-game punishment due to an alleged gesture made towards referee Gil Manzano after being dismissed, although the player said it had been aimed at his own coach, Xavi.

Lewandowski has claimed the suspension is “too much for what I did”, and the former Bayern Munich man said it would be “painful” to sit out three games.

With 18 goals in 19 games this season, to lose Lewandowski for three games would deny Barcelona the services of their deadliest attacking weapon. Only Erling Haaland (26) and Kylian Mbappe (20) have scored more club goals this season, among players in Europe’s top five leagues.

The full ban may yet apply, but for now it is on hold, a surprise development, particularly in regard to the timing.

Barcelona said in a statement on Friday: “Lewandowski can play tomorrow against Espanyol after the dispute settlement court in Madrid issued a precautionary measure against the suspension imposed by the court of arbitration for sport.”

The Espanyol game is Barcelona’s first since the World Cup break, with Xavi’s team having sat top of LaLiga heading into the six-week interval, two points clear of a Real Madrid side who were getting their campaign back under way against Real Valladolid on Thursday.

Xavi said: “We have been facing this week different options, taking into account that Robert was not available, but in the end it’s fantastic news we will be able to have Robert, although it’s not the best situation to know a day before that he’s going to be able to play.

“He’s surprised about timings, but I’ve said it plenty of times: it was an unfair suspension, three games for just touching the nose.”

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