Cristiano Ronaldo will serve a three-game ban following his red card during Real Madrid's recent 1-1 draw with Athletic Bilbao, according to AS:
Cristiano has been handed a 1 match ban for violent conduct and 2 for disrespecting the match officials.— AS English (@English_AS) February 5, 2014
Does Cristiano Ronaldo deserve a three-game ban?
The Spanish football association provided their verdict after an incident that could severely impact Los Blancos' chances of capturing this season's La Liga title.
Ronaldo, who appeared to slap Bilbao's Ander Iturraspe during the hard-fought affair on Feb. 2, may have been further punished for his offensive gesture after the card was shown, per Goal.com.
Atletico Madrid fans shouldn't celebrate too readily. Ronaldo is free to play in both legs of the upcoming Copa del Rey semifinal between the two sides, as noted by ESPN:
Instead of missing vital cup matches, Real will have to make do without their superstar for La Liga games against Villarreal (H), Getafe (A) and Elche (H).
Carlo Ancelotti's men have barely set the world on fire in recent weeks from an attacking sense—scoring five goals in four games, compared to five in one before that, per WhoScored.com. However, they will be confident of overcoming their imminent schedule without Ronaldo in the team.
The 2013 Ballon d'Or winner certainly didn't receive any favours from the Spanish board, who revealed Ronaldo's suspension on his birthday.
Ronaldo has scored 22 goals and provided six assists in 21 La Liga appearances this campaign, according to WhoScored. His most recent sending-off was the eighth of his career, ending Real's 10-match winning streak in the process.
Marca has confirmed the club will appeal Ronaldo's ban, a decision amplified by Ancelotti's reaction to his player's dismissal:
Real Madrid's appeal will be based on three arguments. Firstly, the club believes the ball was still in play at the moment when Ayza Gamez pulled out the red card.
In addition, 'Los Blancos' deem that the contact made between Ronaldo and Iturraspe cannot be considered as a "knock", as it was described in the referee's match report.
Real also believes that there is no way of proving that the gestures made by Ronaldo touching his cheek were directed at the fourth official, which was also noted down by match official from Valencia.
Real need their match-winners at this stage of the season and will be anxious to overturn such a hefty punishment.
The club currently linger three points behind Atletico at the top of La Liga and remain locked with Barcelona on 54 points. There is little room for things to go wrong, suggesting Ronaldo's presence is of key importance if they are to gain the Spanish crown.