Barcelona will be without Neymar for this month’s Clasico against Real Madrid after he was banned for three matches by the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF).
Neymar was sent off for picking up two yellow cards as Barca were beaten at Malaga on Saturday, becoming their first player to be dismissed in La Liga since October 2015.
The dismissal was Neymar’s first in his four seasons with the club.
His first booking was for obstructing the taking of a free-kick by tying his laces and the second was for a late challenge on Roberto Rosales.
That carries a one-match ban — but referee Jesus Gil Manzano wrote in his report that the Brazil international had “sarcastically applauded” the fourth official as he left the pitch.
The RFEF competition committee has deemed that worthy of an additional two-game ban, meaning Neymar misses league games against Real Sociedad, Madrid and Osasuna.
They launched an unsuccessful appeal when Luis Suarez was sent off in the Copa del Rey semifinal in February and then delayed leaving the field of play, incurring a two-game ban.
Luis Enrique’s side are currently three points behind Madrid, having played one game, and the coach claimed some some of the yellow cards given at Malaga were “special” and “curious.”
He said: “We have to take a lot of care in these types of games because I think there were ugly challenges from behind which clearly deserved bookings; other things such as tying your boots…
“If we book players for this, we have to book players for everything.
“It’s curious that a team like us that doesn’t usually kick people get so many yellow cards in such an incomprehensible manner.
“Then there are players on the other team that during the game commit fouls and don’t get any cards. It’s curious, but we’re used to it.”