clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Did Xabi Alonso deserve a second yellow card for his foul on Alex Teixeira?

Xabi committed several fouls on specifically this play that lead to his second yellow card and subsequent sending off, according to the Laws of the Game.

Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

Xabi Alonso was sent off in the 64th minute of Bayern Munich's 0-0 draw with Shaktar Donetsk on Tuesday. It was a contentious decision and given the fan-base's opinion of Spanish referee Alberto Mancello, it was a widely decried decision among Bayern Munich fans. Despite that outcry though the whole question of did Xabi Alonso deserve a second yellow card when he fouled the Alex Teixeira hinges on the initial condition; was it a foul? It's where I begin and it's the most important question in the entire play.


The foul -- in the looking at the play it can be broken down into three distinct phases: the initial contact, the extended arm of Xabi Alonso, and the trip.


At the initial point of contact, Xabi Alonso makes a lunging stab to poke the ball away from Teixiera. The touch Teixeira takes is ultimately too strong or potentiall conversely Xabi is able to take a small poke of the ball. Either perception doesn't change the net effect in that the ball isn't out of the control of the sprinting Brazilian and in most cases he would be considered in control of the ball.

The lunge from Alonso takes the Spaniard off balance and with both players are using outstretched arms to in their tussle for the ball, it is Alonso who is in a very disadvantageous positions. The speed of Teixeira is going to put Alonso in a postion where any arm contact that results in what could be construed as an impedance is going to be considered pulling back a player. I'll come to that later. Coupled with the arm, the third part of the sequence is the fully off balance plant foot of Alonso coming down over which Teixeira makes contact and trips. While the contact could be certainly be construed as minor and one could raise the criticism that "Teixeira went down easily", both players are at a full sprint on a breakaway -- minor impedances are going to be magnified in impact and in many ways that's the nature of the game.

Now the question becomes what type of fouls are those? Law 12 of the FIFA Laws of the Game specifically states that "A direct free kick is awarded to the opposing team if a player commits any of the following seven offences in a manner considered by the referee to be careless, reckless or using excessive force...trips or attempts to trip an opponent...pushes an opponent". By the letter of the law, Xabi Alonso has already committed an offense for the tripping of Teixeira. Pushing however is more of a gray area as does that extend to pulling back an opponent? In the official presented interpretations of the rules, this is could also be interpreted as holding and is defined as "the act of preventing him from moving past or around using the hand, the arms or the body."

In conclusion, there are several things wrong with this attempted challenge from Xabi Alonso, of which one is certainly a foul and the other is a somewhat gray ruling.  With the foul established the question becomes was it worth a yellow card?


Given the context of the overall buildup of play, it's readily apparent that Shaktar Donetsk are on the counter. Jerome Boateng completely mistimes his challenge on Teixeira cutting off both Mario Götze and Xabi Alonso in their attempt to stop the counterattack. This leaves just David Alaba and Juan Bernat alone against Teixeira and Fred on the right. It's 2v2 and Bayern Munich have limited defensive opportunities.

Under this condition, we again must reference the rules for cautions of unsporting behavior. The following are specific conditions upon which a player must be cautioned: "commits a foul for the tactical purpose of interfering with or breaking up a promising attack... holds an opponent for the tactical purpose of pulling the opponent away from the ball or preventing the opponent from getting to the ball". The trip that breaks up what was one of Shaktar Donetsk's best attacks of the game certainly violates the first condition for unsporting behavior cautions.The second part of that interpretation, coupled with above mentioned act of Xabi's arm being in a position where he's applying leverage to the play, he would most likely be judged to be infringing Teixeira from getting to the ball While the subsequent slow motion replays we have at our disposal certainly makes it seem like the trip was the bigger detriment to Teixeira, the referee has a split second to decide -- and that's a damning position for Alonso to have his arm in.

All in all, Xabi is clearly in violation of at least one rule, potentially two, that iare directly cautionable offense and that leaves Bayern Munich without their deep-lying playmaker for the the second leg at the Allianz Arena in March.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Bavarian Football Works Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of Bayern Munich news from Bavarian Football Works