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Diego Costa is a bit like Marmite - you either love him or you hate him! Sent off for head-butting an opponent in the Europa League, spat at by Betis defender Amaya, the ebullient Brazilian striker is always in the thick of things, and his do-or-die approach has earned him the respect of coach Cholo Simeone, who had a similar character himself in his playing days. The Sevilla players were on the "hate" side though in the midweek cup semi-final, Costa's constant niggling causing the red mist to descend on "Pit-bull" Gary Medel, who got himself sent off after picking up two bookings in succession, the first for barging the player over and the second for "accidentally" treading on him as he lay on the ground. Medel had to be dragged off the pitch on a metal leash to stop him from biting somebody! Then the silky skills of Kondogbia were forgotten for a moment as he too lost his cool, leaving a foot in and around Costa's groin area as the striker lay on the ground following a clash between the two. Another red card, and with Costa himself scoring the opener and then setting up Falcao for another earlier on, Sevilla were out of the cup!

The other semi-final between Barcelona and Real Madrid was a quiet affair in comparison, but two games between the arch-rivals in five days was just too much, and everything exploded on Saturday near the end of the league game in the Bernabeu. What finally sparked things off was Barcelona's rejected penalty appeal in the dying minutes, and after the final whistle it was the turn of Víctor Valdés to see red as he affronted the referee with a string of insults before being hauled away by members of Barça's playing staff. A nuance of Spanish saved him from a very large ban (Valdés told the referee "no tiene vergüenza" (you have no shame), but didn't use the expression "sinvergüenza" (a person without shame), which is a much worse insult in Spanish! (We know, it appears to be the same thing, but try it out on the Spanish waiters at your local restaurant and see how they react!!!). Anyway, the Barça keeper's aggressive stance still earned him a four match ban, and with Barça B's first choice keeper Oier also sent off this weekend, a couple of juniors will have to be called up to the B team to make up the numbers.

Elsewhere though there were only three other red cards, the first two on Friday evening when Zaragoza's Loovens and Getafe's Pedro Léon both picked up second bookings within a couple of minutes of each other, and the third on Saturday when Depor's veteran defender Marchena also got his marching orders for a second yellow card late on in the score-less draw against Rayo. All will serve out a one match suspension, together with eight other players who completed the five yellow card cycle, Jordi Amat (Rayo) with ten bookings, and Ander Herrera (Athletic), Mario Suárez (Atlético), Borja (Getafe), Barkero (Levante), Toulalan (Málaga), Pereira (Mallorca) and Guardado (Valencia), with five. (05.03.13)

PS. Three and four match bans respectively Medel and Kondogbia, although under Federation rules they will have to be served out in next season's cup competition and not in this season's league games. .

(* suspension pending disciplinary meeting decision)

Villains Yellow cards Red cards (straight) Games banned Total points
Medel (Sevilla) 11 3 (1) 7* 22
Sapunaru (Zaragoza) 16 1 4 21
Ramos (Real Madrid) 10 2 7 19
Alvaro (Zaragoza) 10 2 (2) 5 19
Rakitic (Sevilla) 13 2 3 18
Spahic (Sevilla) 13 1 3 17
Cabral (Celta) 11 2 3 16
Víctor Sánchez (Espanyol) 14 0 2 16
Arribas (Osasuna) 10 2 3 15
Alexis (Getafe) 10 1 (1) 3 15
Wakaso (Espanyol) 12 1 2 15
Beñat (Betis) 13 0 2 15
Ander Herrera (Athletic) 7 2 (1) 4* 14
Ricardo Costa (Valencia) 10 2 2 14
Camacho (Málaga) 11 1 2 14
Gálvez (Rayo Vallecano) 11 1 2 14
José Marí (Zaragoza) 11 1 2 14
Forlín (Espanyol) 12 0 2 14
Damìa (Osasuna) 12 0 2 14
Xabi Alonso (Real Madrid) 13 0 1 14