MADRID: Neymar looks set to travel with the Barcelona squad for Sunday’s (Monday in Manila) El Clasico against Real Madrid as the Catalans continue to fight his suspension for the potentially title-deciding clash.
The Brazilian is in the midst of a three-game suspension for his red card and subsequent sarcastic applause of the officials in Barca’s 2-0 defeat to Malaga two weeks ago.
Barca’s appeal to Spain’s Court of Arbitration for Sport (TAD) wasn’t placed until after the court’s normal meeting time on Friday.
The club argues that until a ruling on the appeal is held, Neymar’s ban should be suspended and therefore allow him to feature at the Bernabeu.
“The club asks TAD to present a ruling and, unless it confirms the player’s ban, it grants the provisional suspension of the ban,” Barca said in a statement.
“As a coach I am prepared to play with Neymar or without him,” said coach Luis Enrique on Saturday.
However, even if no ruling from TAD is forthcoming before kick-off on Sunday (1845GMT), Barca would be taking an enormous risk by playing Neymar as they could be sanctioned with defeat for fielding an ineligible player.
Barca’s desperation for Neymar to be involved speaks volumes as the side most in need of the points.
Enrique says his last Clasico in charge is a must-win for the reigning La Liga champions.
Madrid holds a three-point lead at the top with a game in hand on their rivals as they close in on a first La Liga title in five years.