Barcelona players just can’t stop antagonizing referees. After dropping three valuable points against Málaga that would have moved them closer to league leaders Real Madrid, the Catalan club has been hit with the news that Neymar will miss El Clasico, the April 23 clash against their rivals that could go a long way towards deciding who wins the Spanish league.
According to MARCA in English’s Jason Pettigrove, the two-match ban comes from a red card incident on Saturday, when the Brazilian star was sent off for barreling into Málaga defender Diego Llorente, which gave him an automatic one-match ban (to be served vs. Real Sociedad this weekend). The ban was reportedly doubled to two games after Neymar walked off the field while sarcastically clapping at the assistant referee, meaning he will miss the match at Madrid’s Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, barring a successful appeal from the club. This comes just weeks after Lionel Messi was banned for four Argentina matches due to cursing out a referee in a narrow 1-0 win against Chile.
The Neymar news could not come at a worse time for a Barcelona side that was clinging to slim title hopes. The club currently sits 3 points behind Real Madrid, with one more game played (effectively putting them 6 points behind, unless Madrid falters). Even with a win in the Neymar-less Clasico, Barcelona would need help from one of Real’s remaining opponents to win the league. That’s if Barcelona doesn’t follow the trend of dropping points to weak sides, as their four losses this season have been to teams outside of the top nine of La Liga.
Despite still being mathematically able to treble for the third time (they are in the Copa del Rey final against Alavés, and, after their miraculous comeback against PSG, they face Juventus in the quarterfinals of the Champions League on Tuesday), Barcelona has an uphill climb to earn multiple trophies in manager Luis Enrique’s final year.