Barcelona captain Lionel Messi has escaped a lengthy ban for lashing out at Athletic Bilbao's Asier Villalibre in Sunday's Spanish Super Cup final defeat and will only serve a two-game suspension.
The Spanish football federation (RFEF) said on Tuesday Messi had been banned for two matches, meaning he will miss Thursday's Copa del Rey last-32 tie at Cornella and Sunday's La Liga match away to Elche.
He is set to return to face Bilbao in the league on January 29.
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The Argentine was sent off at the end of extra time in the Super Cup final, which Barca lost 3-2, for striking Villalibre in the face.
He would have faced a sanction ranging from four to 12 matches had the RFEF'S competition committee described the incident as aggression but it was instead reported as "violence during play", which is punished with a two to three game ban.
It was the first time in 754 matches that Messi had been sent off for Barcelona. He has received two red cards while playing for Argentina, including on his debut back in 2005.
Barcelona say they will be appealing the ban.

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Lionel Messi was sent off for the first time in his Barcelona career in the Spanish Supercopa final against Athletic Club. Is his mind focused elsewhere as he ponders his future?
The 33-year-old has six months left on his contract with Barca and looks set to leave, with the delays over the club presedential elections not improving the likelihood that he will stay.

Lionel Messi was sent off for the first time in his Barcelona career against Athletic Bilbao

Image credit: Getty Images

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