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Barcelona suffer Neymar blow ahead of El Clasico

As well as the clash against Real Madrid, the Brazilian is set to be suspended for home clashes with Real Sociedad and Osasuna.

Image: JORGE GUERRERO

NEYMAR’S HOPES OF playing in the Clasico against Real Madrid are over after the Barcelona forward received a three-match suspension for applauding referee Gil Manzano against Malaga.

The Brazilian forward was sent off at the Rosaleda for a second bookable offence, a punishment that carries an automatic sanction of one match.

However, Gil Manzano reported Neymar after the match for ironically clapping his decision as he left the field.

And on Tuesday, the Spanish Football Federation’s Competitions Committee confirmed that on top of the original ban, the player would miss an additional two games for dissent against the match official.

Neymar as a result will be on the sidelines for Saturday’s clash at Camp Nou against Real Sociedad, and will also play no part in the following week’s Clasico at the Santiago Bernabeu.

The news is a heavy blow for the Catalans, who must win against Real Madrid to keep alive their hopes of coming back to retain La Liga.

Barca currently trail Madrid by three points, with Zinedine Zidane’s men holding an additional game in hand over their rivals.

The final game of Neymar’s suspension comes on April 26, when the Blaugrana host Osasuna.

Barcelona will contest the decision before the Appeals Committee, which meets on Wednesday, on the grounds that Neymar’s sarcastic clapping did not constitute dissent and that the additional ban is therefore unjustified.

In the meantime, he will also have to tread carefully in Tuesday’s Champions League quarter-final.

A yellow card for Neymar in Turin against Juventus would earn him another suspension, this time in the continental tournament, and rule him out of the crucial second leg at Camp Nou against the Serie A champions.

Neymar has been vital to his team’s efforts in keeping up the chase on Madrid this season, playing 26 of their 31 games so far.

While Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez head the scoring charts, the Brazilian has weighed in with nine goals and 10 assists, making him second only to Suarez as a provider.

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