Liverpool will not face Inter star Nicolo Barella in either leg of their Champions League last-16 clash while Kyle Walker has been handed a lengthy ban.
The Reds are due to face the Serie A champions over two legs, with the first game scheduled for February 16. That takes place at Anfield while the return leg at the San Siro is pencilled in for March 8. But Italy international Barella will be absent for the entire tie after receiving a two-match ban from UEFA on Friday.
The 24-year-old was red-carded during the Nerazzurri’s 2-0 loss to Real Madrid on Matchday six. He was pushed into the advertising boards by Real defender Eder Militao.
The Brazil international was booked for his actions but Barella’s reaction saw him see red. The midfielder attempted to punch the South American’s leg and German referee Felix Brych reached for his card.
It is a boost for Jurgen Klopp as Barella is one of Inter’s most influential players. The former Cagliari ace has started 20 league games in 2021-2022 and helped his side to the top of the standings.
They are four points clear of Napoli having played a game less and in pole position to defend their title. He was linked with a move to Tottenham last year but ended those rumours by penning a new deal until 2026 in November.
Walker receives lengthy sanction
City reached the knockout stage as group winners, ending one point ahead of Paris Saint-Germain. Walker started five of the Citizens six matches but was sent off against RB Leipzig on December 7.
The England defender’s dismissal came just eight minutes before the end of the 2-1 defeat at Red Bull Arena. Pep Guardiola will now be shorn of the full-back for both legs of City’s last-16 tie with Sporting.
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The Premier League champions travel to Portugal on February 15 for the first leg before hosting Ruben Amorim’s side on March 9.
And he will also have to sit out the first leg of the quarter-finals if the Etihad outfit progress.
City have opted not to appeal the decision. His foul was termed an ‘assault’ on the UEFA charge sheet, per Sportstar.
The north-west giants have yet to win Europe’s top club competition and fell to Chelsea in the final last season. They are already well clear in the Premier League but it is European glory that the owners crave.
Guardiola will hope that Walker’s indiscretion does not come back to haunt them over the next few weeks.