Barcelona's Eric Abidal & Daniel Alves To Miss Champions League Final

The duo will not be participating in Rome after UEFA confirmed that their suspensions will stand...
Eric Abidal and Daniel Alves will not be playing for Barcelona in next month's Champions League final in Rome, UEFA have revealed today, after the governing body confirmed that the suspensions due to the players will stand.

The same applies to Manchester United midfielder Darren Fletcher, who was dismissed near the end of the Red Devils' Champions League semi-final against Arsenal. Television evidence seemed to indicate that the referee had erred in that particular case, but UEFA were able to reveal that not only did the appeals in all three players' cases arrive too late, but that there were also no grounds in their rules for the referee to alter the decisions made on the night.

Dispensation can be given in cases of mistaken identity, but that was clearly not what occurred with any of the players here.

A UEFA Statement reads:

“The Control and Disciplinary Body decided not to admit the protest submitted by Manchester United in relation to midfielder Darren Fletcher's red card in the Uefa Champions League semi-final second leg against Arsenal FC.

“Similarly, the Control and Disciplinary Body did not admit Barcelona's protest against the red card of Eric Abidal and the caution of fellow defender Daniel Alves in the semi-final second leg against Chelsea FC.

“All three players are therefore suspended for one UEFA club competition match and will serve their bans when Barcelona meet Manchester United in the UEFA Champions League final in Rome on 27 May.

“In reaching its decision, the Control and Disciplinary Body concluded (i) that the protests had not been submitted within the required 24-hour deadline of a match for filing protests – as specified in the disciplinary regulations – and (ii) that even if they had been admitted they would have been rejected as unfounded as there were no grounds for contesting the referees' original decisions.

“The decisions of the Control and Disciplinary Body can be appealed within three days of the dispatch of the written decision.”

The View From Spain

Reflecting on the decision, Spain chief editor, Juan Lirman admitted that he is not surprised, but that in the case of Abidal, he thinks it should have gone the other way.

"The rejection of the appeal is accepted, because UEFA don't like to change things in big situations like this. So, here in Spain, we expected them to keep it the same; with Alves and Abidal out of the final," he explained.
"Personally though, I think Abidal's should have been overturned, because his foul was not as last man, but Dani Alves jumped with his elbow and it was a dangerous action, so shouldn't have been changed."

With regards to the implications that the decision will have on the final, Juan Lirman believes that it is tough to predict how Barcelona will line-up at the back.

"[Pep] Guardiola is in serious trouble, not only because of Abidal's absence, but especially because of Alves'. Sylvinho can play instead of Abidal, but Alves absence means there are plenty of options, and none that certain," he mused.
"One tactic might be to use young Uruguayan Martín Cáceres at right-back, with [Carles] Puyol and [Gerard] Pique in the center and Sylvinho on the left. Another would be to play Puyol at right-back, with Yaya Touré and Piqué in the middle. Yaya played in that position at Stamford Bridge but he was not great there.
"I believe that Guardiola will play a back four of Cáceres, Puyol, Piqué and Sylvinho."

Finally, he spoke about what effect the absences of Abidal and Alves are likely to have on Barcelona in Rome.

"Sylvinho has been playing well for Barcelona and I think he would be able to replace Abidal with no problems. The absence of Dani Alves might cause a lot of trouble for Barcelona though, because Guardiola doesn't have a player like the Brazilian in reserve. Without Alves' pace and attacking mentality, Barcelona will be weaker in the final," he concluded.

Zack Wilson,