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Barcelona star Neymar suspended for Clasico

Barcelona will have to take on Real Madrid in the Clasico on April 23 without Neymar as the Brazilian forward has been banned.

Neymar - cropped
Barcelona forward Neymar is shown a red card against Malaga

Barcelona forward Neymar will be unavailable for the Clasico with LaLiga leaders Real Madrid on April 23 due to a three-match suspension from the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF).

Barca were trailing 1-0 in their meeting with Malaga on Saturday when Neymar was shown a second yellow card for a poor challenge on Diego Llorente.

The Brazilian would typically have received a one-match ban for the dismissal but due to his alleged sarcastic applause for the fourth official when he left the pitch he has been punished with an additional two-game suspension.

Barca told the RFEF's Competition Committee that it could not be proved that Neymar had directed his reaction to the fourth official as he made his way from the field.

The Committee rejected this claim on the grounds that Barca provided no evidence to back up their version of events, meaning Neymar must sit out the matches against Real Sociedad, Madrid and Osasuna.

The 25-year-old will return for the derby match with Espanyol on April 29. However, Barca do have an option to appeal the sanction.

Team-mate Javier Mascherano told a news conference on Monday: "There have been other players who have done the same and have only received one-game suspensions. We'll see.

"It is very easy to talk from the sofa at home and very difficult to make decisions in high intensity. Sometimes you are wrong, it has happened to me, and there is nothing left to learn from the error.

"We are not going to point blame between us. When someone is wrong or gets into trouble, we tend to try to help him."

Luis Enrique's side were unable to find a route back into the match and ended up 2-0 losers at Malaga, dealing their title challenge a major blow with rivals Madrid three points clear and possessing a game in hand.

Barca will already be without long-term absentees Aleix Vidal and Rafinha when they head to the Santiago Bernabeu, while Arda Turan's fitness continues to be monitored.

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