How Barcelona just came within seconds of breaking rule Madrid broke in 2015

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After some impressive displays for Barcelona B since arriving from Brazilian side Fluminense at the start of the season, Brazilian defender Marlon Santos has emerged as a fringe player in the La Liga giants' senior squad.

The 21-year-old - more commonly known simply as Marlon - made his first competitive appearance for Luis Enrique's side against Celtic in the UEFA Champions League last month and was also amongst Barca's substitutes for their 1-1 draw against Real Sociedad this past Sunday.

Very close

Indeed, Marlon very nearly registered his first La Liga appearance as a late replacement for the injured Gerard Pique in that game, only for the final whistle to intervene.

However, according to reports from Spanish publication Marca, that referee's whistle might have just saved Barcelona from succumbing to the same punishment their arch rivals Real Madrid suffered in 2015.

Madrid mistake

The Rafa Benitez regime at Real Madrid won't go down as the most memorable in Los Blancos' illustrious history. The Spaniard lasted just 25 games in charge before being sacked in January 2016.

There is one incident during Benitez's reign that will live long in the memory, though. The ill-fated decision to play Denis Cheryshev in a December 2015 Copa Del Rey clash.

As it turned out, the Russian wasn't eligible to play in the match due to a previous suspension, and Madrid were duly thrown out of the competition as a result of breaking the rules.

Fast forward 12 months and Barcelona very nearly put themselves in a similar position by introducing Marlon against Sociedad.

close call

Per Marca, the Brazilian isn't actually eligible to play for Barcelona in La Liga until January at the earliest because paperwork on his loan move wasn't completed in time. 

Although officially a Barcelona player, Marlon can't take to the field until after Spanish football's Christmas break.

The fact that he was stripped and receiving instructions on the sideline before the full-time whistle on Sunday shows just how unaware the Barcelona coaching staff were of the situation. 

Had he replaced Pique as was clearly intended, the like scenario, according to Marca, would have been Barcelona having to forfeit the game as a 0-3 defeat - thus falling a further point behind Madrid in the La Liga standings.

Barcelona won't face any punishment for playing Marlon in the Champions League because it falls under different rules. However, the paperwork issue did mean his late withdrawal from the squad for the Catalan club's Copa Del ReHow Barcelona came within seconds of breaking same rule Madrid broke in 2015y fixture last night.

With Barcelona enduring a rough run of form - they've won just twice in the last six - a points deduction would have only increased the pressure on Enrique and co.

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