Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 September 2014

Xabi Alonso only has himself to blame for ban

Xabi Alonso was booked in Munich for a challenge on Bayern's Bastian Schweinsteiger

Xabi Alonso is a classy footballer – one of my favourites to watch. He always seems to have time on the ball and rarely wastes a pass.

He's the sort of player you would want in your team. Liverpool fans, who grew to savour his stylish performances in the middle of the park while Rafael Benitez was in charge, would take him back in a heartbeat.

There's no way Real Madrid will be selling him any time soon though because he is so important to them. Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale obviously dominate the headlines for their influence in attack, but the Spanish playmaker is a key cog in the machine.

Real are going to miss the suspended midfielder in the Champions League final in Portugal later this month.

It's tough on Alonso, who was clearly feeling sorry for himself on Tuesday night after Real dismantled Pep Guardiola's Bayern Munich in the Allianz Arena to win 4-0 and 5-0 on aggregate.

Walking a disciplinary tightrope before kick-off, Alonso was booked during the semi-final second leg meaning he misses the decider in Lisbon. He was furious, calling the yellow card 'dubious' and for the 'unfair' rules on suspensions to be changed.

Alonso, a Champions League winner with Liverpool in 2005, insisted that it was easy to pick up three yellow cards – which leads to a ban – over the course of one campaign.

It's a lot easier when you make silly, needless challenges like Xabi did in Munich, launching himself at Schweinsteiger in the first half when the German was going nowhere. At the time Real were 3-0 up and coasting to the final. The yellow card was warranted.

And so are the rules. They are in place for a reason – to discourage foul play. There should never be some sort of amnesty on players, even as classy as Alonso, in this situation allowing them to feature in finals regardless of what has gone before.

Much as I like watching him, Xabi should get real about missing out. He only has himself to blame.

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