Lionel Messi faces ban of up to 12 matches after rattled lash out resulted in first club red card for Barcelona superstar in defeat to Athletic Bilbao

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According to Spanish publication AS, the Spanish Football Federation’s (RFEF) panel now face the difficult decision of deciding how long Lionel Messi should be suspended for after a straight red card.

Messi was given his immediate marching orders after a review using the pitch-side VAR monitor by referee Jesus Gil Manzano by lashing out at Asier Villalibre in the 3-2 defeat to Athletic Bilbao last night.

The 33-year-old swiped across at Villalibre as the duo came together after the superstar passed the ball to Jordi Alba on the left-wing in the final minute of the Spanish Super Cup final. Take a look here.

AS report that if Messi’s actions are found to fit within article 123 of the rulebook, the forward can expect a suspension of two to three games, as his ‘violent play’ came off the ball.

That is the absolute minimum Messi will face it seems though, article 98 of the disciplinary code will have to be considered, which constitutes actions more in line with a kind of intentional ‘assault’.

Barcelona fans will be praying that this isn’t the path that the panel go down, as it carries a minimum ban of four matches and a maximum suspension of up to 12 games.

Considering Messi’s vile actions were off-the-ball and totally unnecessary, article 98 may be enforced.

The all-time great also made some unwanted personal history with his implosion at the end of the final, as this marked the first red card Messi has ever seen for the Barcelona first-team after over 16 years.

The RFEF’s Competition Committee certainly face pressure to make the right decision with Messi, they can’t leave themselves open to being accused of bias as the Argentina is La Liga’s most prized asset.

A domestic suspension – even if it’s for the absolute minimum of two or three games if things go the Blaugrana’s way – is the last thing that Barcelona need after finally closing the gap on Real Madrid in the La Liga table, whilst they remain way off Atletico Madrid who hold two games in hand.

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