- Ronald Koeman has decried the red card handed to Lionel Messi in the Super cup final
- The Barcelona manager saw his side lose 3-2 to Athletic Bilbao which won the prestigious title
- Koeman has insisted that Messi’s reaction which led to the sending off was normal
Barcelona boss Ronald Koeman has lamented Lionel Messi’s red card following their stunning 3-2 defeat in the Spanish Super Cup by Athletic Bilbao.
The Argentine was shown a straight red for a foul on Asier Villalibre as he looked to have punched the forward who had busted unto his path.
It was Messi’s first-ever red card in his Barcelona career in his 753rd match for the club, but Koeman has suggested that it is normal for the player to react in such a manner.
The manager alleged that the six-time Ballon d’Or winner was kicked on several occasions during the encounter and that he was not surprised the captain reacted that way.
He said, as cited in Daily Mail:
“I can understand what Messi did.
“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.”
Lionel Messi was not in action when Barcelona defeated Real Sociedad in the semi-final of the competition due to injury, but Koeman stated that he asked the Argentine if he was fit enough for the final. He added:
I spoke with him and he said he was fit enough to start the game."
As a straight red card for violent conduct, Messi is likely to miss the next four domestic matches.
This will pile more pressure on an already beleaguered Koeman, who are third in LaLiga and seven points adrift of table-toppers Atletico Madrid having played two games more.
Messi could be issued a further four-game ban depending on the Spanish FA subject to their review of the case.
He risks missing Barcelona’s Copa del Rey clash with Cornella on Thursday, January 21 as well as league games against Elche, Athletic Club and Real Betis.
Meanwhile, Legit.ng earlier reported that Barcelona and Lionel Messi will be forced to pay the fines slapped on them over the Argentine's touching tributes to legendary Diego Maradona in November.
The 1986 World Cup winner was confirmed dead in the 11th month and his death threw the entire football world into mourning.
Football stars both active and retired paid their last respect to the late attacker who made name for himself in Europe during his reign with Napoli and the Catalans.
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