Paris Saint-Germain will be without manager Laurent Blanc when they need him most thanks to his one-match suspension due to multiple late kickoffs during the UEFA Champions League group stage.
UEFA released a statement Thursday, Jan. 30, concerning the ban:
UEFA's Control and Disciplinary Body has suspended Paris Saint-Germain coach Laurent Blanc for one UEFA competition match. The sanction is due to the coach's improper conduct for a late kick-off (Article 11(2g) of the UEFA Disciplinary Regulations) at the UEFA Champions League Group C game against SL Benfica in Lisbon on 10 December.
The first violation of the regulations for a late kick-off was penalised with a warning against the club and the coach (Paris v Benfica on 2 October); the second infringement was punished with a fine against the club and a one-match ban under a probationary period against the coach (Paris v Olympiacos FC on 27 November).
This suspension will keep Blanc out of his club's Champions League match against Bayer Leverkusen on Feb. 18. The manager will be unable to talk to his squad during or before the match and he will not be allowed in the dressing room at any point.
He is allowed to watch from the stands, but he cannot make contact with any of his players.
The ruling could end up being devastating for PSG, who are considered one of the favorites in the Champions League after winning Group C with four wins and a draw in six matches.
While they have plenty of talent, it will be difficult going on the road in the first leg of a round of 16 battle against Leverkusen.
Playing at BayArena will be even tougher, as Bayer Leverkusen have only lost a single home match in Bundesliga play this season. If Paris Saint-Germain struggle without their manager, they could be in bad shape for the second leg scheduled for March 12.
Even Blanc previously discussed the challenges of facing the German squad, via ESPN.com back in December:
We'll have a lot of respect for them, we're going to study them, there's still time to do that. I'm perhaps going to watch the German league a little more than usual. We knew there would be some big teams up against each other. We're one of them, and I think Bayer are also a big team.
On the other hand, Max Bretos of ESPN thought this was a favorable draw for PSG:
After drawing Bayer Leverkusen, I may up my PSG Champions League stock— Max Bretos (@mbretosESPN) December 16, 2013
Still, this incident just goes to show that you always need to follow the rules, even for something as minuscule as a start time.
Although the first warning and fine did not seem to work, you can be certain Blanc will learn his lesson this time around. Otherwise, the punishments will only get worse.
Follow Rob Goldberg on Twitter for the latest breaking news and analysis.