Xabi Alonso, Cavani, Muller, Puyol & the players walking a suspension tightrope in the Champions League

Goal.com lists all the players who will potentially miss the first leg of the quarter-final should they pick up a booking in their next fixture
By Robin Bairner

Potentially only five matches separate the remaining participants in the Champions League with a place in the final of the competition at the Allianz Arena in Munich. As May 19 draws nearer, suspensions become increasingly telling.

The system works on a three-strike rule: when a player has picked up three cautions, they are forced to serve a one-match ban. Any yellow card received in the group stages is carried over to the knockout stages, but crucially, any bookings accrued in the qualifying stages of the competition that did not result in a ban are wiped.

Once a player has served a suspension for picking up three yellow cards, they will only need two subsequent cautions to result in a further one-match ban.

A red card, of course, means an automatic one-match suspension, and depending on the severity of the offence, Uefa could extend the ban.

At the end of the season, all the disciplinary charts are wiped clean, though any outstanding suspensions will carry over into future campaigns.

Here are the players who are only one booking away from missing the quarter-final first leg should their sides progress:

APOEL

Nektarios Alexandrou Midfielder
Marcelo Oliveira Defender
Marcinho Midfielder
Paulo Jorge Defender
Ivan Trickovski Midfielder

ARSENAL

Johan Djourou
Defender
Tomas Rosicky
Midfielder
Alex Song
Midfielder

BARCELONA

Carles Puyol
Defender

BASEL

Alexander Frei
Attacker
Benjamin Huggel
Midfielder
Marco Streller
Attacker
Granit Xhaka Midfielder

BAYER LEVERKUSEN

Michael Ballack
Midfielder
Gonzalo Castro Defender
Vedran Corluka
Defender
Eren Derdiyok
Attacker
Michal Kadlec
Defender
Stefan Kiessling Attacker
Omer Toprak Defender

BAYERN MUNICH

Thomas Muller
Attacker
Bastian Schweinsteiger
Midfielder

BENFICA

Artur
Goalkeeper
Ezequiel Garay
Defender

CHELSEA

David Luiz
Defender

CSKA MOSCOW

Pontus Wernbloom
Midfielder

INTER

Mauro Zarate
Attacker

AC MILAN

Mark van Bommel
Midfielder

NAPOLI

Salvatore Aronica
Defender
Edinson Cavani
Attacker
Christian Maggio
Wing-back

OLYMPIQUE LYONNAIS

Cris Defender
Bafetimbi Gomis
Attacker
Kim Kallstrom
Midfielder

OLYMPIQUE DE MARSEILLE

Morgan Amalfitano
Attacker
Andre Ayew
Attacker
Alou Diarra
Midfielder
Souleymane Diawara
Defender
Jeremy Morel
Defender

REAL MADRID

Xabi Alonso
Midfielder

ZENIT ST. PETERSBURG

Bruno Alves
Defender
Alexander Anyukov Defender
Domenico Criscito Defender
Tomas Hubocan Defender

Most of the game's heavyweights have avoided picking up too many bookings in the group stages of the competition and therefore have few players with significant concerns going into the last-16 second-leg fixtures.

AC Milan are probably best placed in terms of suspension problems, as their healthy 4-0 lead over Arsenal means that Mark van Bommel will not need to be quite as competitive as usual in the heart of their midfield.

Real Madrid and Barcelona have one player each walking the tightrope, while Bayern Munich, who have been tipped as outsiders for the competition in some quarters, have both Bastian Schweinsteiger (who is still out injured) and Thomas Muller flirting with disaster as they attempt to overcome their first-leg deficit against Basel.

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