Xabi Alonso and 20 Players Suspended for Major Finals

Karl Matchett@@karlmatchettFeatured ColumnistApril 30, 2014

Xabi Alonso and 20 Players Suspended for Major Finals

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    Matthias Schrader/Associated Press

    Real Madrid's stroll through to the Champions League final came after a 4-0 drubbing of Bayern Munich (5-0 aggregate) on Tuesday night.

    However, they'll contest the final without key central midfielder Xabi Alonso, who picked up a thoroughly needless yellow card in the match, ruling him out of the next game.

    Alonso is far from alone in missing big, trophy-deciding matches down the years...not that that will make 24 May any easier for him to watch.

Xabi Alonso, Champions League Final 2014

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    Paul White/Associated Press

    What, oh what, was Xabi Alonso thinking?

    In the first half of Real Madrid's 4-0 battering of Bayern Munich on Tuesday night, Alonso went sliding into a tackle he was never going to win with the ball on the wrong side of the man.

    He pulled out, but too late—a foul was given, and a yellow card issued. It was a moment of lunacy on the Spaniard's part for which he will pay dearly by missing this season's Champions League final, which would have been the third of his career.

    Real were already 3-0 up (4-0 on aggregate) when he made the lunge.

Roy Keane, Champions League Final 1999

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    Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

    Former Manchester United captain Roy Keane missed out on the 1999 Champions League final after a booking against Juventus in the second leg of the semis. He actually also got injured before the final, but he would not have played anyway due to the suspension.

    However, Keane rallied himself in the semis to score a vital goal for his team and send them through to the final.

    United beat Bayern Munich 2-1 there, with both United goals coming in stoppage time.

Paul Scholes, Champions League Final 1999

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    Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

    United were also without their other usual midfield starter for the '99 final.

    Paul Scholes only came on as sub against Juventus but still picked up a booking which ruled him out of the showpiece against Bayern.

    Nicky Butt and David Beckham started in midfield for United as a result of Scholes' and Keane's absences.

Laurent Blanc, World Cup Final 1998

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    MICHEL EULER/Associated Press

    Former France central defender Laurent Blanc only received one red card in his career—and it came in a World Cup semi-final.

    He was sent off for allegedly elbowing a Croatian player in the face, though replays showed he was innocent.

    Nevertheless he missed the World Cup final, which France won 3-0 against Brazil.

Michael Ballack, World Cup Final 2002

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    KEVORK DJANSEZIAN/Associated Press

    Four years after Blanc missed his big moment, Germany captain Michael Ballack suffered the same fate.

    He was booked in the semi-finals for a foul, ruling him out of the 2002 World Cup final with Germany set to face Brazil.

    Unlike Blanc, Ballack could not join in celebrations afterward, as Germany were defeated without him.

Dani Alves, Champions League Final 2009

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    Jon Super/Associated Press

    Dani Alves' first season at Barcelona ended in a league and cup double, but he missed out on featuring in the treble win.

    A yellow card for a foul on Chelsea's Ashley Cole in the second leg of the semi-final meant he was suspended for the final itself, where Barca took on and beat Manchester United 2-0.

    His place at right-back was taken by Carles Puyol, who switched over from the centre.

Luis Garcia, FA Cup Final 2006

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    Phil Cole/Getty Images

    Liverpool's Luis Garcia missed the 2006 FA Cup final after being sent off just weeks beforehand in the Premier League.

    In a fairly meaningless end-of-season league game, Garcia was red-carded for violent conduct, meaning a three-match ban. That meant he missed the final, which his side eventually won on penalties after a 3-3 draw.

Hayden Mullins, FA Cup Final 2006

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    Christopher Lee/Getty Images

    Liverpool weren't alone in being a man light for their squad that day, as Hayden Mullins also saw red for West Ham in the same incident.

    Both clubs appealed for the red cards to be overruled and for the players to be allowed to play their part in the final, but both were rejected.

Alessandro Costacurta, Champions League Final 1994

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    Claudio Villa/ Grazia Neri/Getty Images

    Perhaps 1994 should have been the pinnacle of Alessandro Costacurta's career, but it might be forever tinged with regret for the former AC Milan centre-back.

    Milan won the title that season and also reached the Champions League final—but Costacurta missed it through suspension, of course.

    He was sent off in the semi-final win over Monaco with his team 1-0 up at the time.

Alessandro Costacurta, World Cup Final 1994

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    Simon Bruty/Getty Images

    Things didn't get much better for "Billy" during the summer either, in terms of making decisive contributions in finals.

    He was part of the Italy team that reached the final of World Cup '94 in the U.S., where they would play Brazil.

    Costacurta didn't play that day, though, after a yellow card in the semis against Bulgaria meant he would once more miss out.

Ian Wright, European Cup Winners' Cup Final 1994

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    Anton Want/Getty Images

    Ian Wright was Arsenal's big goal threat back in the early '90s, but he was also a fierce competitor and rather rash in the challenge at times.

    In the second leg of the Cup Winners' Cup semi-final against PSG, he chopped down a defender to earn a yellow card—and thus a suspension for the final that his earlier header had sent his team toward.

    Arsenal beat Parma 1-0 in the final in '94.

Pavel Nedved, Champions League Final 2003

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    Clive Mason/Getty Images

    Pavel Nedved was Juventus' star man in midfield in 2002-03 as they reached the Champions League final, but the Czech playmaker missed the big game.

    He was booked in the semi-final second leg against Real Madrid, ruling him out of an all-Italian final against AC Milan.

    The final itself could really have done with some Nedved magic: A dour 0-0 was eventually settled on penalties in favour of Milan.

Claudio Caniggia, World Cup Final 1990

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    Caniggia, left, celebrates with Diego Maradona.
    Caniggia, left, celebrates with Diego Maradona.Billy Stickland/Getty Images

    Argentine forward Claudio Caniggia might not have been the biggest name in his nation's attacking line, but he was a vital part of their side nonetheless.

    He scored the equalising goal in the semi-finals of World Cup 1990 but was then booked less than 10 minutes before full-time. It meant a suspension for the final itself, which Argentina needed penalties to reach.

    Without Caniggia, Argentina were weakened in attack, and a poor final ended 1-0 to West Germany.

Champions League Final 2012 Saga: John Terry

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    David Ramos/Getty Images

    We come now to our final section concerning the Champions League final of 2012, which saw no less than seven players miss out due to suspension, leading to calls for all three players from either side to have their bans annulled and the rules changed.

    As Alonso can testify, this hasn't happened.

    Chelsea and Bayern Munich contested the final, with the English side playing their semi-final second leg one day earlier.

    Captain John Terry was first to know he'd miss out—he was sent off for stupidly kneeing Alexis Sanchez in the back. His was a straight red, and there was no talk of his suspension being rescinded afterward.

Champions League Final 2012 Saga: Ramires

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    Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

    Ramires was next to make a big impact.

    He was booked after Chelsea fell 2-0 down against Barcelona, with his side already down to 10 men—before chipping in a goal just before half-time to put the Blues ahead on goal difference.

    However, the booking meant he'd play no part in the final.

Champions League Final 2012 Saga: Branislav Ivanovic

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    Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

    Just a few minutes into the second half, Andres Iniesta and Branislav Ivanovic were both booked in the space of a few seconds.

    That meant Chelsea's defender would also miss the final. With Terry suspended and Gary Cahill going off injured earlier in the game, the side could have been without three centre-backs for the final.

Champions League Final 2012 Saga: Raul Meireles

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    David Ramos/Getty Images

    In the final minute of the game, with Chelsea still hanging on to that away-goal lead, Raul Meireles was shown a yellow card, thus following his team-mates in being suspended for the final.

    Two years later, we still await confirmation of whether it was for a foul or his awful haircut.

Champions League Final 2012 Saga: David Alaba

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    Kerstin Joensson/Associated Press

    One day after Chelsea's antics, Bayern Munich took on Real Madrid in the other semi-final second leg.

    Only four minutes had passed when the ball was knocked against David Alaba's hand from a low cross, with the referee opting to give a penalty and a yellow card to the left-back, ruling him out of the final barely after the semi had begun.

Champions League Final 2012 Saga: Luiz Gustavo

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    Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

    Luis Gustavo just about made it all the way through the semi-final without getting a card—or at least, the first 90 minutes of it.

    Extra time was a step too far, though, and he was booked for bundling over Real Madrid's Pepe near the end of the first added period.

Champions League Final 2012 Saga: Holger Badstuber

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    Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

    Barely a minute after Gustavo's non-participation was confirmed, defender Holger Badstuber followed him after a late challenge earned another yellow.

    That made it seven players between the two sides who wouldn't feature in the 2012 final.

Almost the Most Famous of All: Paul Gascoigne, World Cup 1990 3rd-4th Play-Off

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    ROBERTO PFEIL/Associated Press

    We wrap things up with one for (bad) luck, one which wasn't a final and so doesn't figure in our 20 but is entirely memorable nonetheless.

    England midfielder Paul Gascoigne picked up a booking in the semi-finals of the 1990 World Cup against Germany, which led to tears on the pitch and Gary Lineker's famous look at his manager on the sidelines.

    As it happens, England went out on penalties (again) and all Gazza missed was the third-fourth place play-off against Italy...which England also lost.