Neymar to miss El Clasico after being handed 3-match ban for taunting ref

El Clasico will be without one of the game’s biggest stars when Barcelona and Real Madrid square off on April 23. Neymar, Barcelona’s ebullient winger, will be forced out of the match after being slapped with a three-match ban.

The Brazilian’s suspension comes on the heels of a sending off over the weekend at Malaga. After getting his marching orders, Neymar clapped and jawed in the direction of the officials. The match’s referee, Jesus Gil Manzano, included the incident in his post-match report.

“In the 65th minute player (number 11) Da Silva Santos J, Neymar was sent off for the following reason: second yellow,” Manzano wrote, via AS. “After being sent off and when he was heading towards the tunnel to the dressing rooms, he applauded the fourth official.”

Per league rules, the suspension doesn’t come as much of a surprise. The Disciplinary Code plainly states that any player or manager caught disparaging a referee will be subject to a two-to-three match ban. For Neymar (and Barcelona’s) sake it’s a shame that he’ll miss such a pivotal match this late in the season.

Aside from El Clasico, Neymar will be out against Real Sociedad on April 15 and Osasuna April 26.

Real Madrid have a three-point lead in the La Liga title chase in addition to their match in hand. Having Neymar on the pitch would have gone a long way toward closing that gap, but now the Blaugrana will have to look elsewhere. Arda Turan could be back from a lingering groin issue, but his status is still up in the air.

It’s expected that Barcelona will appeal the suspension, but barring an overturn of the suspension it’s expected Neymar will still miss the aforementioned matches.