Barcelona winger Ousmane Dembele is out of the Clasico meeting with Real Madrid after he was handed a two-match domestic suspension for his comments towards referee Mateu Lahoz.
The France international was sent off in Barca’s 4-0 win over Sevilla, with the referee writing in his official report that Dembele had said to him: “You are so bad.”
Lionel Messi and head coach Ernesto Valverde had defended the former Borussia Dortmund star’s actions, claiming that he doesn’t speak Spanish well, suggesting that his punishment should be reduced as a result.
Speaking to RAC1, the Argentine said: “I told the referee that it’s very difficult for Ousmane to say something like that because it’s hard for him to form sentences [in Spanish].
“The coach supported me at a press conference. We were surprised that the referee understood him so clearly because it’s still difficult for him to speak Spanish.”
However, the Spanish Football Federation has upheld a two-game ban, meaning that Dembele will miss the league matches against Eibar and Real Madrid, subject to any appeal from the Catalans.
It is the latest setback in the 22-year-old’s Barcelona career, which has yet to really ignite since moving from Dortmund in the summer of 2017.
His debut campaign was plagued by injury, preventing him from earning a consistent run in the starting XI, while last term a succession of minor problems prevented him from gaining a head of steam after scoring eight times in the first 20 league matches of the season.
This term, he has been restricted to just four appearances because of further hamstring trouble, which kept him pinned to the sidelines from mid-August until mid-September.
He made his return after a minor setback against Sevilla and seemed to be enjoying a strong evening, scoring his first goal of the season, before seeing red for a second caution with just a couple of minutes of the match remaining.
Team-mate Ronald Araujo was also dismissed in that encounter, with the young centre-back sent for an early bath for a professional foul. He will be suspended for the clash against Eibar but could potentially play against Madrid if called upon.