Neymar is set to miss El Clasico at Real Madrid on 23 April after being handed a retrospective three-game ban following his dismissal during Barcelona's 2-0 defeat to Malaga on Saturday (8 April). The Catalans are expected to appeal the decision of but the news is a new blow for Luis Enrique' side in their hopes of regaining La Liga title.
The 25-year-old star was sent off in the 65th minute at La Rosaleda stadium after receiving a second yellow card following a late challenge on Diego Llorente, being thus automatically ruled out for the coming clash with Real Sociedad on Saturday (15 April).
However, it later emerged that Neymar faced an extended suspension after referee Jesus Gil Manzano noted in his report that the Barcelona ace applauded the fourth official as he made his way off the pitch.
The Article 117 of the Rfef's Disciplinary Code reads: "Addressing referees, officials or sporting authorities with attitudes of contempt or disrespect, providing that the action does not constitute a more serious foul, will be sanctioned with the suspension of two to three games or one month."
The Rfef has now confirmed the worst fears for Barcelona fans after giving Neymar a three-game ban – one for the two yellow cards and further two for disrespecting the official.
The suspension is a major blow for Barcelona as it comes just 12 days before a hotly anticipated visit to Real Madrid that could be decisive in the battle for La Liga.
Barcelona are surely going to appeal the ban, but precedents are not promising. The Brazilian is also expected to be unavailable for the two encounters at home against Real Sociedad (15 April) and Osasuna (26 April).
Following Barcelona's defeat to Malaga, Real Madrid are at the top of La Liga, three points ahead of Catalans with one game in hand.
Luis Enrique also recently lost Rafinha Alcantara for the remainder of the campaign due to a serious knee injury while Arda Turan and long-term casualty Aleix Vidal are also on the sidelines.