Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation

10 Nightmarish Cup Final Suspensions


A whopping seven first-team players are missing the Champions League final between Chelsea and Bayern Munich because of suspensions.

Chelsea skipper John Terry was shown a straight red against Barcelona for kneeing Alexis Sanchez in the back, and he will be joined in the stands by teammates Branislav Ivanovic, Raul Meireles and Ramires, who all picked up yellow cards that rule them out of the final. Bayern will be without David Alaba, Holger Badstuber and Luis Gustavo who also received fateful bookings in Wednesday night’s game against Real Madrid.

The ‘unlucky seven’ will join an infamous list of players who have missed finals because of suspension. Here's our Top 10 most infamous cup final suspensions, and how their teams got on without them.

10. Alessandro Costacurta (AC Milan & Italy)

Missed: 1994 Champions League Final (AC Milan 4-0 Barcelona)

1994 World Cup Final (Brazil 0-0 Italy, Brazil won 3-2 on penalties)

As part of possibly the greatest back four ever at AC Milan, Costacurta won seven Serie A titles and five European Cups. But there was double heartache in 1994; after he was sent off in the Champions League semi-final against Monaco, he missed his side’s famous 4-0 thrashing of Barcelona in the final. On top of this he then missed the 1994 World Cup Final in USA, after receiving a yellow card in the semi-final against Bulgaria, and had to watch helplessly as Italy lost to Brazil on penalties.

9. Antonio Maceda (Spain) and Rafael Gordillo (Spain)

Missed: 1984 European Championship Final (France 2-0 Spain)

In qualifying for the 1984 European Championships in France, Spain pulled off one of the most miraculous feats in football history. They needed to beat Malta by 11 goals in their final qualifying game in order to pip Holland to top spot. They beat the Maltese side 12-1 in a game that the Spanish regard today as one of the most important in the Spanish national football team's history. In the semi-final of the Championships, Maceda (right) and Gordillo both picked up cautions which ruled them out of the final against hosts France; a game that the Spanish side lost 2-0

8. Pavel Nedved (Juventus)

Missed: 2003 Champions League Final (AC Milan 0-0 Juventus, AC Milan won 3-2 on penalties)

It is no wonder the 2003 Champions League Final is considered to be the worst in the tournaments history, since it had been denied its best player. Nedved was at the top of his game in a season that saw Juventus win the Serie A title. But a tackle on Real Madrid's Steve McManaman ruled him out of the final against AC Milan at Old Trafford; a match that finished goalless after 120 minutes, with Milan eventually winning on penalties.

7. Michael Ballack (Germany)

Missed: 2002 World Cup Final (Germany 0-2 Brazil)

The former Chelsea and Bayern Munich star missed out on playing in the first ever World Cup final meeting between the tournament’s top 2 most successful teams. Ballack led Germany on an unlikely run through the tournament, only to pick up a booking in the semi-final against South Korea that ruled him out of the final. Four minutes after receiving the caution, however, he scored the only goal in the game and sent his side through to a face Brazil. But the Germans lost 2-0 to a side that had already knocked England out of the tournament.

6. Andreas Moeller (Germany)

Missed: 1996 European Championship Final (Germany 2-1 Czech Republic)

A powerful Germany attacking midfielder with curly hair and an arrogant streak; it is hard to believe the English didn't like Moeller when he came to Euro '96. The Dortmund man was booked against England in the last four, ruling him out of the final. But rather than dissolving into tears, he slammed home the winning penalty in the shoot-out and mocked England with a Gazza impression to celebrate. Germany went on to win the final at Wembley, beating Czech Republic 2-1 in extra time.

5. Dani Alves (Barcelona) and Eric Abidal (Barcelona)

Missed: 2009 Champions League Final (Barcelona 2-0 Manchester United)

Having been propelled to the final in Rome thanks to Andres Iniesta's last-gasp goal against Chelsea, two Barca players missed the game through suspension. Dani Alves (right) picked up his third yellow card of the tournament in the semi-final second leg at Stamford Bridge and left back Éric Abidal was sent off in the same game for a professional foul on Nicolas Anelka. This left Barca without their two first choice full-backs, but you wouldn’t have guessed it as the Catalans made light work of Manchester united, completely shutting them out and winning the game 2-0.

4. Darren Fletcher (Manchester United)

Missed: 2009 Champions League Final (Barcelona 2-0 Manchester United)

In the same year Scottish midfielder Darren Fletcher was forced to watch from the stands after picking up a straight red card for a foul on Cesc Fabregas in the semi-final second leg against Arsenal. Replays of the tackle showed that Fletcher clearly played the ball first, but when United appealed the decision they were knocked back. UEFA told them they had not submitted within the required 24-hour deadline of the match, and that even if they had been submitted on time then "they would have been rejected as unfounded as there were no grounds for contesting the referees' original decisions”. The Red devils lost the game against Barcelona 2-0 and never really looked like making an impact.

3. Laurent Blanc (France)

Missed: 1998 World Cup Final (France 3-0 Brazil)

Possibly the most unfair suspension ever came in the semi-final match between Croatia and France, when Slaven Bilic feigned injury after a coming-together with Laurent Blanc. Convinced by Bilic's playacting and believing Blanc must have thrown an elbow, referee Jose Garcia Aranda sent the Frenchman off. Despite losing a quarter of their legendary 'Ligne Magique' back four, France thrashed Brazil 3-0 in the final.

2. Roy Keane (Manchester United) and Paul Scholes (Manchester United)

Missed: 1999 Champions League Final (Bayern Munich 1-2 Manchester United)

Half of Manchester United's legendary midfield missed the 1999 Champions League final after an accumulation of yellow cards, but the semi-final second leg against Juventus was Keane's finest hour. After picking up his fateful booking, Keane drove United to a thrillingly unlikely triumph, coming from two goals down to win 3-2. The final itself is a still regarded as one of the greatest of all time. United just about got by without Keane and Scholes, and scored two goals in the 89th and 90th minute to beat Bayern Munich 2-1.

1. Paul Gascoigne (England)

(Would Have) Missed: 1990 World Cup Final…

The most famous reaction to a suspension didn't even matter in the end. When Gazza flew in on Thomas Berthold, the resulting yellow card provoked floods of tears as the midfielder's dream of representing his country in a World Cup final was shattered. By the end of the match, so was the rest of the England team's, as they lost to West Germany 4-3 on penalties. The Germans went on to beat Argentina 1-0 in the final. Instead Gascoigne sat out the third-place play-off, which England lost to Italy 2-1.

(Images: Getty, Rex Features, All Star)

(Words: Kieren McNally)


alves pic.jpg

Top 10 Transfer Flops


7 Greatest Football Chants

HERO 79650888.jpg

Best footballers never to play for England



Ballon d’Or: Who’s a fraud and who's not

We weigh up the merits of the 30 footballers recently deemed the planet's best

26 Oct 2016

Luis Suarez talks English football and the toughest PL defenders

He's a lover, not a biter

19 Oct 2016

Gary Lineker talks crisps, Rooney and "Sh*t on pitch"

Crisp don Gary Lineker reminisces about the time Diego Maradona nearly fell off a balcony

by Alex Christian
19 Oct 2016

Park Ji-sung now plays for De Montfort University's student side

And can't even prevent them from getting utterly drubbed

by Tristan Cross
14 Oct 2016

Watch San Marino players celebrate first WCQ away goal in 15 years

Ecstasy in Oslo

by Dave Fawbert
12 Oct 2016

The first-ever green card has been awarded in a football match

But how do you get one?

by Dave Fawbert
10 Oct 2016

Football's wonderkids that never made it

The prodigal youngsters that left us boy wondering

by Tristan Cross
05 Oct 2016

Celtic’s 13 year old wonderkid is already better than you'll ever be

Karamoko Dembele made his debut for the U20s last night

04 Oct 2016

The new FIFA president wants to ruin the World Cup

He might have just f*cked up massively

by David Cornish
04 Oct 2016

Sam Allardyce was foolish but he shouldn’t have been sacked

The England mess leaves more questions than answers

by Dave Fawbert
28 Sep 2016