Fans have accused Robert Lewandowski of purposely trying to get sent off in Barcelona’s clash with Osasuna on Tuesday night after the striker was dismissed in their La Liga encounter.
The Poland international was given his marching orders by referee Jesus Gil Manzano for a second bookable offence and will now miss their final game before the World Cup begins in 12 days’ time.
With his side already trailing 1-0 to an early David Garcia goal at El Sadar, Lewandowski was involved in a high collision with the Osasuna defender having already been cautioned for a foul on Ignacio Vidal.
The 34-year-old appeared to glance in the direction of his opponent to track his movements before launching for a jump, although the Pole got nowhere near the ball and appeared to lead with his elbow.
Referee Gil Manzano showed no hesitation at all in producing the second yellow card and then the red, and despite his lengthy protests amongst a crowd of Barcelona players, Lewandowski headed down the tunnel for an early bath. Teenage sensation Pedri levelled things up for the 10-man visitors before the interval.
The red card means that Lewandowski will now face a one-game suspension in La Liga, ruling him out of Barcelona’s final game before the World Cup, the Catalan derby against Espanyol at Camp Nou.
Conveniently, it will hand the prolific striker a chance to rest up before Poland head off to the World Cup, with their group stage opener against Mexico exactly two weeks away on November 22 in Qatar.
Some high-profile players have already been ruled out of competing in the first-ever winter event due to the short turnaround between club matches and the tournament in Qatar, with Sadio Mane now a doubt after coming off injured for Bayern Munich.
And some fans felt Lewandowski may have had an underlying motive behind his deserved sending off, with some eagle-eyed fans making the connection between Barca’s final fixture and Poland’s upcoming opener.