Lewandowski gets shock Barca all-clear to face Espanyol as ban goes on hold

    Robert Lewandowski is set to face Espanyol in Saturday’s derby after Barcelona secured a temporary injunction in a Madrid court, postponing the striker’s ban for three matches.

    Poland’s Lewandowski received two yellow cards in the first half of Barça’s last game before the World Cup break, a 2-1 win over Osasuna on 8 November.

    The Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) has given Lewandowski a three-game extended sentence over an alleged gesture made to referee Gil Manzano after being sacked, although the player said it was directed at his own coach Xavi.

    Lewandowski said the suspension was “too much for what I’ve done” and the former Bayern Munich player said it would be “painful” to miss three games.

    With 18 goals in 19 games this season, Lewandowski’s three-game loss robs Barcelona of their deadliest offensive weapon. Only Erling Haaland (26) and Kylian Mbappe (20) have scored more club goals this season among players in Europe’s top five leagues.

    A total ban may still apply, but for the time being it has been suspended, which is an unexpected development, especially in terms of timing.

    Barcelona said in a statement Friday: “Lewandowski could play against Espanyol tomorrow after the Madrid dispute settlement court took precautionary measures against a suspension imposed by the CAS.”

    The game against Espanyol is Barcelona’s first since the World Cup break, with Xavi’s team leading La Liga ahead of the six-week break, two points clear of Real Madrid, who resumed their campaign against Real Valladolid on Thursday.

    Xavi said: “We’ve been running into different options this week considering that Robert was unavailable, but in the end it’s fantastic news that we can get Robert, although it’s not the best situation to know the day before, that he will be able to play.

    “He’s surprised by the timing, but I’ve said it many times: it was an unfair disqualification, three games just for touching the nose.”

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