Barcelona will be without one of their most influential stars ahead of the second El Clasico of the season on April 23, a game that could decide where 2016/17 La Liga title lands.

The Spanish FA hit Brazilian forward Neymar with three-game suspension on Tuesday which will see him miss crucial ties against Sociedad at home, followed by the El Clasico at the Santiago Bernabeu as well as the visit of Osasuna on April 26.

The ban comes in the wake of his dismissal and sarcastic applause directed at referee Gil Manzano in a 2-0 defeat by Malaga at the weekend.

Neymar was shown two yellow cards in Malaga loss. The first caution came as a surprise as he was punished for delaying the taking of a free-kick by tying his laces.

His second booking followed a clumsy challenge and tangle of legs which left the referee no choice but to give the striker his marching orders. As Neymar left the pitch, he sarcastically applauded Manzano.

Originally the ban would have been for one match but the 25-year-old’s reaction to the red card has cost him dearly, with an added two matches added to his suspension.

Neymar’s absence is a huge blow for Luis Enrique’s side ahead of the much anticipated El Clasico crunch clash as rivals Real lead the Spanish champions by three points in the table with one game in hand.

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