Barcelona are expecting to be able to use Robert Lewandowski for their crucial La Liga tie against Atletico Madrid this Sunday, despite the suspension hanging over his head.
After Lewandowski was sent off against Osasuna in November, he was handed an extra two-game ban, taking it to three, for his gesture towards the referee. Barcelona appealing to the Royal Spanish Football Federation and the Tribunal for Sports Arbitration, both of which turned down their claim to reduce the ban.
However the Blaugrana appealed in a public court and just 24 hours before their derby clash against Espanyol, their appeal managed to suspend the ban entirely until the case was resolved.
Espanyol were furious, cut ‘diplomatic ties’ for the match and have complained to the RFEF, requesting that they be given the three points and Barcelona punished for fielding an ineligible player, given Lewandowski should have been suspended. That is expected to be rejected, given the RFEF have no authority over the court.
As per Diario AS, Barcelona ‘take it as a given’ that Lewandowski’s suspended sentence will continue as such for their match against Atletico Madrid. Both sides will be invited to present their arguments in the coming days – either this week or next – before a decision is made.
That decision could take between two weeks and several months as the court goes into detail on the matter. However they will decide whether to maintain the suspension of his ban when those arguments are heard.
If it is maintained, Barcelona will be able to play Lewandowski until the matter is resolved. Yet they will do so without certainty of when the ban will fall – theoretically, they might be without him for the return El Clasico.
In the opposite case, Lewandowski will serve the three-game ban immediately, but if Barcelona do manage to win the case and shorten the ban, then Lewandowski will have already served the punishment. Their only recourse will be a compensation package.
While Barcelona will be delighted they have managed to have Lewandowski available for two key matches, the matter is out of their hands now. It could come back to bite them down the line, which for many would be just. Other sides, Espanyol chief among them, will feel they are infringing the rules.