Five key players are one booking away from a Europa League ban – and the ref is a nutter

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We are in the awkward position of having five of our first team regulars on the verge of a European ban if they get booked on Thursday.

Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino, Dejan Lovren, Alberto Moreno, and Nathaniel Clyne have all picked up two bookings in the competition so far, and will be forced to sit out a match if they collect another (via Echo).

Lovren has already played one match on the proverbial tightrope – he would have missed Thursday’s match if he was booked in the last-16 second leg at Old Trafford.

The presence of Moreno and Clyne on the list is a particular concern – John Flanagan is not in the European squad, so we’d be forced to go with Milner and Brad Smith at full-back if they both got yellows.

Dortmund’s only worry from a suspension point of view is Sven Bender.

The situation will not be helped by the man appointed to referee the match. Spaniard Carlos Velasco Carballo is the man UEFA have selected, and his stats for the season are scarcely believable.

In fact, in his 28 games so far, he’s dished out 154 yellows and 10 reds!

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On the bright side, Champions League and Europa League rules were amended in the summer of 2014 so that accumulated bookings would be cancelled after the quarter-final stage (via BBC). The decision was made after a spate of high-profile players – including Xabi Alonso, Branislav Ivanovic, Raul Meireles, David Alaba, Holger Badstuber, and Luis Gustavo – were forced to sit out of UEFA’s showpiece events in recent years.

It means that if we can reach the semis, all the bookings would be reset to zero. Only red cards would force players to miss the final.


More Stories Alberto Moreno Dejan Lovren Nathaniel Clyne Philippe Coutinho Roberto Firmino