Update from Wednesday, April 30
Xabi Alonso has expressed his displeasure at UEFA's three-bookings rule, which will see him miss the 2014 Champions League final due to suspension.
Alonso earned his third caution of the tournament during Tuesday's Champions League semi-final second leg between Real Madrid and Bayern Munich, and claimed after that UEFA's rule is incredibly harsh, per the Daily Mail's Jack Gaughan:
"The rule is not fair at all because you are playing for 13 games, three yellows cards is more than easy to be shown, it needs to be changed," Alonso fumed.
Real Madrid was nearly perfect Tuesday night, but one of the few mistakes will cost them veteran midfielder Xabi Alonso in the Champions League final.
After Carlo Ancelotti's squad took a 3-0 lead in the second leg at Allianz Arena (and a 4-0 lead on aggregate scoring), Alonso went in for a clumsy challenge on Bastian Schweinsteiger in the 38th minute.
It resulted in a yellow card and a suspension from the biggest fixture of the season, as the club's official Twitter feed confirmed:
Although it was a completely unnecessary tackle from Alonso, legendary striker Michael Owen was quick to the Spaniard's defense, arguing that the punishment doesn't exactly fit the crime:
I know it was a daft tackle and Alonso has won the CL before but I can't have that a player should be deprived of playing in one of the— michael owen (@themichaelowen) April 29, 2014
Biggest games in the world of football for picking up two yellows. The punishment is too harsh. Only red cards should constitute a ban.— michael owen (@themichaelowen) April 29, 2014
Whether or not it's fair doesn't matter at this point, though. Alonso, who won the Champions League with Liverpool in 2005, will have to watch from the sidelines when Real Madrid face Atletico Madrid or Chelsea on May 24.
Alonso has been a key piece in Real Madrid's potential treble this season. In 31 appearances across La Liga and the Champions League, he has completed 88.9 percent of his passes and made 2.6 tackles per match, according to WhoScored.com.
Who should start for Alonso in the Champions League final?
His Champions League experience and ability to control the midfield will be difficult to replace for Real Madrid, but it's not as though Ancelotti is short on options.
Sami Khedira is likely the top candidate to fill in for Alonso if fit, while players such as Casemiro or Asier Illarramendi could also be called upon.
No one is truly going to replace the 32-year-old, but if Los Blancos play like they just did against perennial favorites Bayern next month, they'll be raising the trophy with or without Alonso on the pitch.