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Champions League suspensions: Real Madrid and Bayern Munich missing key players – AS USA

The Champions League returns this week with the second legs of four perfectly-poised quarter-finals. We saw some scintillating action on Tuesday that saw both Spanish teams crash out (Barcelona losing to PSG and Atlético Madrid to BVB), and tonight we will be hoping for more of the same levels of drama.
At this level, the elite of European soccer, the margins are tantalisingly fine, a single misplaced pass or errant touch can prove disastrous for a team’s hopes. Equally, the absence of a key player can be the difference between celebration and calamity.
Players receive a one-match ban for accumulating three yellow cards before the Champions League’s semi-final stage. After the first legs of the quarter-finals five players have hit that threshold and will miss the crucial return fixtures this week.
I'm once again not understanding why you'd put a MASSIVE logo on the floor right by an entrance if you think it's disrespectful to walk on it
Eagle-eyed Madridistas will have been shocked on Monday to see that Aurélien Tchouaméni was included in Real Madrid’s matchday squad for their trip to the Etihad Stadium. Was there a late reprieve for Frenchman? A sudden rule change that makes him eligible for the must-win return leg? No, the former Monaco midfielder is banned for this weekend’s second leg against Manchester City but has been named in the squad regardless. He will not be eligible to play any part.
The absence of Tchouaméni could be a major loss for Real Madrid given his impressive form this season. Normally a midfielder, the 24-year-old has been fielded in the heart of defence in recent weeks as Los Blancos struggle through a raft of injuries. He impressed in the first leg against Manchester City, marshalling the explosive Erling Haaland well.
UCL suspension rules dictate that players are hit with a one-game ban when they reach three yellow cards in a single season. Beyond that, another suspension is doled out for each odd number of bookings (five, seven, etc).
The yellow card count is a rolling total that accumulates across the season, before being wiped after the quarter-final stage. This ensures that players cannot be suspended for the Champions League final due to the accumulation of yellow cards. The rule was changed ahead of the 2014/15 season to prevent players missing the showpiece game because of potentially minor infringements. Former Real Madrid midfielder and recent Bundesliga champion Xabi Alonso suffered that fate in 2014, forced to watch on from the sidelines as his side clinched La Decima.
Any players on the verge of a suspension just need to avoid another booking this week to ensure that they don’t suffer an accumulation ban this season. Although the yellow card total is wiped ahead of the semi-finals, any player who picks up their third (or fifth, seventh…) booking in this week’s second leg will have to serve their one-match ban in the first leg of their team’s semi-final. Assuming, of course, that they make it.
About the author
William Gittins
A journalist, soccer fanatic and Shrewsbury Town fan, Will’s love for the game has withstood countless playoff final losses. After graduating from the University of Liverpool he wrote for a number of British publications before joining AS USA in 2020. His work focuses on the Premier League, LaLiga, MLS, Liga MX and the global game.
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