Barcelona's appeal to have Ousmane Dembele's two-game ban reduced to one has been rejected by the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF).

Dembele was sent off in the closing minutes of Barca's 4-0 LaLiga win over Sevilla this month following a confrontation with referee Antonio Miguel Mateu Lahoz, who had just given debutant Ronald Araujo a red card for a foul on Javier Hernandez.

Barcelona's initial appeal against Dembele's red card was dismissed and he was ruled out of the club's next two league matches.

With the France forward seemingly set to miss the Clasico against Real Madrid, which had been scheduled for October 26, Barca then attempted to have his ban halved.

Their efforts proved in vain but Dembele will now be available for the first LaLiga Clasico of the season, with the fixture having been postponed due to safety concerns amid the ongoing political tensions and protests in Catalonia.

Instead, the former Borussia Dortmund star will miss Saturday's match against Eibar and the meeting with Real Valladolid a week on Tuesday.

The Camp Nou Clasico appears set to be played on December 18 after both Barca and Madrid proposed the date on Friday.

Dembele has made three league appearances for Barca this season, scoring once - against Sevilla.

Ousmane Dembele will miss the first Clasico of the season after being handed a two-match ban by the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF).

The Barcelona winger was sent off in the closing minutes of the 4-0 LaLiga win over Sevilla last Sunday after confronting referee Antonio Miguel Mateu Lahoz, who had just given debutant Ronald Araujo a red card for a foul on Javier Hernandez.

According to the referee's match report, Dembele said to him, "Very bad, you are very bad", as Barca players surrounded him to argue against Araujo's dismissal.

Barca appealed against Dembele's red card but the RFEF has dismissed their case and given the France international a two-game ban.

He will therefore sit out the trip to Eibar on October 19 and then the visit of Real Madrid to Camp Nou on October 26.

Araujo has been banned for one game, as has Gerard Pique, who has collected five bookings this season. Both will be available to face Madrid.

Dembele has made three LaLiga appearances this season and scored his first goal of 2019-20 in the defeat of Sevilla.

Barca are two points behind league leaders Real Madrid after eight matches.

Neymar signing for Real Madrid was a prospect Lionel Messi feared was about to become a reality.

The Brazil superstar featured in a lethal front three alongside Messi and Luis Suarez at Camp Nou before joining Paris Saint-Germain in a world-record €222m move two years ago.

Reports of Neymar wishing to return to LaLiga have been frequent since then and an 'MSN' reunion was mooted during the close season.

But with Barcelona unable to put together a package to make the deal happen, Messi worried his old team-mate would end up pulling on the famous white shirt of their sworn rivals.

"I honestly thought that in this market, if he did not come here, he would go to Madrid, because I really thought he wanted to leave," five-time Ballon d'Or winner Messi told RAC1.

"He said it, he wanted to change, to leave Paris. I thought that Florentino [Perez, Real Madrid president] and Madrid would do something to take him away."

Barcelona still boast a plethora of elite forward options.

Messi is back to fitness after a calf problem delayed his start to the 2019-20 season, while Suarez came through a period of criticism to score four times in the space of eight days before the international break.

Big-money arrival Antoine Griezmann is still bedding in, although his fellow France international Ousmane Dembele must serve a suspension having been sent off for dissent during the 4-0 victory against Sevilla last time out.

In his report, referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz said Dembele told him he was "very bad, you're very bad" in response to Barca youngster Ronald Araujo being red-carded.

Like coach Ernesto Valverde, Messi was perplexed by the incident – mainly due to Dembele's lack of aptitude with the Spanish language – that means the winger is set to miss El Clasico at Camp Nou later this month.

"It is very difficult for him to be able to say that because it is difficult for him to put together sentences and speak well enough to speak clearly," Messi said.

"The coach supported him at a press conference. The truth is we were surprised that [the referee] understood it so clearly because Ousmane has a hard time speaking Spanish – although he makes himself understood and understands everything.

"It's difficult [to accept the referee] understood it so clearly. That's just the way it is."

Barcelona head coach Ernesto Valverde was left pondering Ousmane Dembele's red card at the end of his side's rout of Sevilla, claiming the Frenchman's grasp of Spanish would have restricted the words that led to his dismissal.

Dembele was sent off two minutes from time for protesting the red card shown to Barcelona debutant Ronald Araujo in Sunday's 4-0 LaLiga victory, and Valverde said the late disciplinary flurry did not reflect the manner of the game.

Barca cruised to their fourth consecutive win in all competitions, scoring three goals in eight first-half minutes before captain Lionel Messi added a fourth with a second-half free-kick.

Valverde praised his side's incisive forward play after the champions moved within two points of top spot thanks to goals from Luis Suarez, Arturo Vidal, Dembele and Messi.

"We have had more punch than them, there is the key," Valverde told reporters afterwards.

"The result is substantial, but we don't have to be forgiving to our rivals.

"The red cards? It's the referee's decision. Everyone has their opinion. I've seen a pretty clean game.

"It didn't seem like Araujo's fault, but I always see everything in favour of my team.

"I don't know what Dembele may have said to the referee but I don't think it's a long sentence because it's hard to hear him speak Spanish."

Sevilla coach Julen Lopetegui hailed his side's bright start, in which Luuk de Jong squandered three good opportunities to put the visitors ahead.

But Barcelona's dominance thereafter leaves Sevilla with three defeats from their last four LaLiga matches and Lopetegui felt the result at Camp Nou was harsh on his players.

"The first 30 to 35 minutes were ours," said Lopetegui. "We had very clear chances and we didn't score. And in such a scenario when you don't take advantage, the laws of football take effect."

Luis Suarez and Ousmane Dembele scored memorable goals for Barcelona as Ernesto Valverde's decision to drop Antoine Griezmann was vindicated in a 4-0 victory over Sevilla.

While their €120million signing among the substitutes, Suarez's acrobatic overhead kick got the LaLiga champions off the mark, Arturo Vidal polished off a sublime passing move with the second and Dembele scored a solo effort to all but end the contest.

Lionel Messi wrapped up the win with a curling second-half free-kick and the synergy between Barcelona's front three, which has not always clicked with Griezmann involved, will not have been lost on Valverde.

The match ended in unsavoury fashion for the Catalans, though, who saw debutant Ronald Araujo and Dembele sent off shortly before injury time.

Luuk de Jong received good service from Lucas Ocampos in the early stages but he fluffed three chances put Sevilla ahead before Suarez broke the deadlock with a moment of magic 27 minutes in.

The Uruguay marksman watched Nelson Semedo's cross loop through the air and met it with an overhead kick into the bottom corner of the net before goalkeeper Tomas Vaclik could react.

The goal settled the hosts and five minutes later a move that incorporated 25 passes and all 11 Barcelona players culminated in Arthur's weighted ball, which allowed Vidal to slide in and glance a shot past Vaclik.

Dembele made it 3-0 inside eight first-half minutes when his slaloming run tore through Sevilla's defence, the 22-year-old opening his body and side-footing in at the far post.

The second half started just like the first, with De Jong squandering a great chance to score when he drilled a shot against the post from just inside the Barca box.

The hosts were soon back on top and Messi twice surged through Sevilla's midfield before putting the finishing touches on a fine win with a dipping, curling free-kick 12 minutes from time.

Valverde sent on Araujo for his debut, which turned sour when he was judged to have fouled Javier Hernandez as the Sevilla forward went through on goal and was shown a red card along with Dembele, who was sent off for his protests.

 

What does it mean? Barca go second

After Atletico Madrid were held to a goalless draw at Real Valladolid, Barcelona took full advantage and claimed a result that moved them up to second place in the table, two points behind leaders Real Madrid.

Frenkie says 'Relax!'

A run of mixed results in August and September left Valverde under pressure but his players looked calm and assured here, none more so than Frenkie de Jong, who looks every inch the composed midfield lynchpin to succeed Sergio Busquets – a second-half substitute here.

No luck for Luuk

While Barca's De Jong barely put a foot wrong his Sevilla namesake had a torrid evening, the centre-forward missing four clear chances to give the visitors a foothold in the game.

What's next?

Barcelona will hope to extend their winning run to five matches in all competitions by beating Eibar away from home on October 19, while Sevilla aim to get back on course as they entertain Levante a day later.

Lionel Messi and Ousmane Dembele have been passed fit to be included in the Barcelona squad to face Inter in the Champions League.

Club captain Messi has only started one game this season in all competitions due to calf and thigh injuries respectively.

Dembele has also been included in a 20-man squad named by coach Ernesto Valverde, after a minor knock, but teenage prodigy Ansu Fati remains out with a knee problem.

Defenders Samuel Umtiti and Jordi Alba are still sidelined and will miss Wednesday's Group F game at Camp Nou.

Inter have been dealt a blow with head coach Antonio Conte confirming in a news conference that striker Romelu Lukaku has been ruled out.

Lukaku's absence could open the door for former Barca forward Alexis Sanchez to start for the Nerazzurri, who drew their opener at Slavia Prague.

Lionel Messi could yet feature in Barcelona's Champions League clash with Inter on Wednesday, with Ernesto Valverde refusing to rule him out of the contest.

Messi has endured a difficult start to the season due to injury problems, suffering a calf strain in August that kept him out for a month, before a hamstring issue struck against Villarreal in September.

Early indications seemed to suggest Messi was going to be missing for up to three weeks, but he was back in training on Monday.

Although Valverde is yet to decide whether Messi is ready, he did warn expecting fans that he shall not needlessly risk their talisman, while there also remains a little uncertainty around Ousmane Dembele after hurting his hamstring.

"We will see if he [Messi] receives it [the all-clear to play]," Valverde told reporters on Tuesday. "First we have training. What I reiterate is that we will not run any risk and we have to wait for training. 

"On Monday Dembele did the first part of the training, so now we see if he can do more on Tuesday.

"Leo did half the training on Monday, we'll see if he can finish [Tuesday's session]. I don't know if we can count on them in the end."

Barca began their Champions league campaign with a 0-0 draw at Borussia Dortmund, meaning they are under a little more pressure to get a home win against Inter.

Antonio Conte's side have enjoyed a stunning upturn in form since the former Chelsea coach took over, winning six and losing none of their seven matches across all competitions this season.

In last season's Champions League, Barca beat Inter 2-0 in Camp Nou and drew 1-1 in Milan, though Valverde expects an entirely different challenge this time around.

"It is a team that has changed many things; players, the coach, they're playing with a different system, even if there are similar things, such as their intention to push up," Valverde said.

"They have had a spectacular start, they are winning all their matches and we are waiting for a complicated game.

"This is another Inter to last year, impacted by the coach, something similar to what we met with Chelsea two seasons ago. It's a solid team, hard to score against."

Lionel Messi returned to Barcelona training on Monday in a boost to his chances of featuring in the midweek Champions League game against Inter.

The superstar forward completed part of the session with the main group as he stepped up his recovery from the adductor injury he suffered in the 2-1 LaLiga win over Villarreal last Tuesday.

Barca captain Messi had to be withdrawn at half-time and missed Saturday's 2-0 victory at Getafe, secured courtesy of goals from Luis Suarez and Junior Firpo.

Messi, 32, was making his first start of the campaign when he sustained the adductor issue, having been troubled by a calf problem during pre-season.

Barca's goalless Champions League draw away to Borussia Dortmund on September 17 marked his return to action and the Argentina international could be available again for the club's second Group F game, at home to Antonio Conte's in-form Inter on Wednesday.

It could be a double fitness boost for Ernesto Valverde, with Ousmane Dembele also involved in the first session of the week.

Like Messi, the winger missed the trip to Getafe because of a thigh problem.

Two successive victories have lifted the Spanish champions to fourth in LaLiga and eased the pressure on head coach Valverde following an indifferent start to the season.

Ernesto Valverde hailed the perseverance of Luis Suarez, who silenced his critics with a goal in Barcelona's 2-0 LaLiga victory at Getafe.

Suarez was on target in the opening half as 10-man Barca recorded their first away victory of the league season on Saturday.

Whistled during Barca's win at home to Villarreal midweek, Suarez responded by scoring his third LaLiga goal of the campaign – a lobbed effort in the 41st minute.

Barca head coach Valverde lauded 32-year-old forward Suarez, who has come in for criticism due to his form.

"Goalscorers sometimes score and sometimes they don't, but Luis always perseveres," Valverde said. "He fought for a long ball and was rewarded."

Barca had lost two and drawn one of their opening three away fixtures in LaLiga prior to Saturday's triumph against Getafe.

The result left Barca fourth in the standings, two points adrift of leaders and bitter rivals Real Madrid.

"It was important not to make mistakes early on like we have done in other games," Valverde said. "That was fundamental. The goal calmed us down and, from there, we imposed ourselves well. We didn't give much away and had chances to score more.

"If you want to win LaLiga you have to win a lot of games away from home, not just your home games. Getafe were a tough rival, it's a hard place to come and we've played well. Now we have three days to prepare for Inter."  

Barca were without Ousmane Dembele for the Getafe trip due to a thigh injury and it remains to be seen whether the France international will be fit for Wednesday's Champions League showdown against Inter.

"It's true that I left him out of the [matchday] squad," Valverde added. "It was more as a precaution. He's told me that he is calm. We think it's a little nuisance, but it's nothing serious."

When asked if Dembele would feature against Inter, Valverde replied: "I don't know. I wish that wasn't the case, but I can't say for sure."

Barcelona forward Ousmane Dembele has picked up a thigh injury, ruling him out of Saturday's LaLiga clash at Getafe.

The France international, 22, will undergo further tests by Barcelona's medical staff to determine the extent of the injury.

Dembele's absence depleted Ernesto Valverde's attacking options, the head coach having already been shorn of Argentina forward Lionel Messi, who has a thigh problem.

Valverde started with a front three of Antoine Griezmann, Luis Suarez and Carles Perez against Getafe as he made two changes from the 2-1 midweek win over Villarreal.

Perez took Messi's place up front while Nelsinho was replaced in midfield by Frenkie de Jong.

Ernesto Valverde dismissed claims of Barcelona being in crisis as nothing more than a quirk of modern football as he remained relaxed about speculation over his future.

Barca's worst start to a LaLiga season in 25 years was confirmed by a shock 2-0 defeat at Granada on Saturday.

The result, a second defeat in five league games for the champions, left them four points adrift of first and extended their winless run away from home to seven competitive matches, a streak that includes draws at Osasuna and Borussia Dortmund.

Tuesday's home meeting with Villarreal presents a swift opportunity for Barca to get their campaign back on track and Valverde hopes to quieten a growing number of critics.

"In the world of football, we talk about a crisis every three days and in three days you can be out of the crisis," Valverde said at his pre-match news conference.

"That's what we want: we want to pick up the six points available this week.

"Why are we in this situation? Because we haven't won, that's clear. There were moments when we weren't creating enough chances to turn the game around.

"There are things we have to improve but, apart from the second half against Dortmund, none of our opponents have really been bombarding us with chances. We're getting penalised by occasional, one-off things that are happening.

"We're creating the chances, but we need to create more. That's where we really need to improve. We need to create more than the opposition."

One player capable of carving out scoring opportunities, Ousmane Dembele, will return to the squad against Villarreal after recovering from a hamstring injury.

The fit-again Lionel Messi will be considered for a starting place following two successive appearances off the bench, but Ivan Rakitic has been left out.

Anything less than victory at Camp Nou would pile further pressure on Valverde, who has faced stern scrutiny since last season's Champions League semi-final collapse against Liverpool.

"It's not new. I have felt under examination from the beginning," the Blaugrana boss said.

"There is a very large demand on coaches, much more in the case of Barca. The coach is always in the spotlight. It's no surprise."

Lionel Messi has told Ousmane Dembele he needs to step up for Barcelona and be more professional.

Stories about Dembele's discipline, including time-keeping issues, have been a constant thread through the France forward's career to date.

His lack of development since swapping Borussia Dortmund for Camp Nou led to Dembele reportedly being offered to Paris Saint-Germain as a makeweight in a proposed deal for Neymar.

No transfer went through before the deadline at the start of September, however, with former Rennes starlet Dembele said to be reluctant to make the return to Ligue 1.

Barca captain Messi has made it clear more is expected of Dembele this term, although the 22-year-old scored eight LaLiga goals in 2018-19 when only starting 20 games.

"I believe he's an impressive talent who can do whatever he wants," Messi said in an interview with SPORT. "He is very young and I think this year will be very important for him to make the step up that the whole of the Barcelona fanbase wants to see.

"He needs to make that change to be more professional, to put that idea into his head, so he can be a success at Barcelona like he wants to be. I hope he doesn't have the bad luck he’s had with injuries.

"Last year, when we needed him the most, he was injured. Hopefully that doesn't happen this year and he's able to show everything he has, which is a lot. As a player, he's very impressive."

Messi, though, accepts it is not easy to thrive at Barca, with players such as Philippe Coutinho having failed to make their mark.

"It's very difficult to play for Barcelona," he said. "It's the biggest club in the world and everything that comes with it is tough.

"The supporters, the groups, the media coverage ... It isn't easy to come in and step out onto the Camp Nou pitch. It doesn't matter for some and others feel it immediately.

"When someone has a strong mentality and is confident, everything works out. But not everyone is the same. Some people aren't able to adapt to these things in the same way.

"It isn't easy to play for Barcelona."

Ousmane Dembele is "still like a child" and needs guidance in order to fulfil his potential, according to former Barcelona team-mate Kevin-Prince Boateng.

Boateng spent the latter part of the 2018-19 season playing alongside Dembele at Camp Nou while on loan from Sassuolo and he opened up about the France international's temperament in an interview with Bild.

Dembele has earned a reputation for his poor timekeeping having been suspended for Barcelona's defeat to Real Betis last season after missing a training session and France coach Didier Deschamps publicly lambasted him, saying: "I know about his excuses when he turns up late."

Barcelona stuck by the 22-year-old in the face of speculation that he might leave the club, for whom he scored eight goals in 29 LaLiga appearances last season, but Boateng urged the Blaugrana to nurture his talent.

"He is very calm, and does not talk much," Boateng told Bild.

"He is still like a child to me. You have to take him as he is and it may be that he arrives late.

"There are players who do that in defiance, but that's different with him. He's just like a little boy – one who earns a lot of money, one who is extremely public."

Boateng's stay with the LaLiga champions was short-lived and he made just three league appearances during a five-month spell at the club.

In contrast, Dembele is someone Barca coach Ernesto Valverde and president Josep Maria Bartomeu seem keen to keep hold of as he embarks upon his third season in Catalonia.

Boateng warned Barcelona: "You have to point him in the right direction. If he does not learn then it is his fault.

"For me, he's still a little boy who was thrown into this huge pool, suddenly costing 150 million euros overnight and somehow does not even know how everything works – because he just wants to play football."

Lionel Messi will get to decide his Barcelona future, regardless of when the star is contracted until.

Messi, 32, re-signed with the LaLiga champions two years ago, extending his contract until 2021.

But such extensions may not matter when it comes to arguably the world's best player.

 

TOP STORY – MESSI CAN LEAVE BARCELONA AT THE END OF ANY SEASON

Messi can choose to leave Barcelona at the conclusion of any campaign regardless of his contract, according to El Pais.

The Argentina superstar made his debut for the club in late 2004, and his future is seemingly in his own hands.

It remains to be seen when, or if, Messi decides to depart Camp Nou.

ROUND-UP

- Philippe Coutinho eventually left Barcelona for Bayern Munich on loan, but it could have been different for the playmaker. Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola rejected the chance to sign the 27-year-old, according to Marca.

- Left out of Juventus' Champions League squad, Mario Mandzukic is eyeing a January exit, according to Calciomercato.com. The striker was heavily linked with a move to Manchester United during the transfer window.

- Staying in Turin, Juventus could have signed Bayern Munich defender Jerome Boateng in the close season. Calciomercato.com reports Maurizio Sarri rejected a move for the centre-back.

- Ousmane Dembele was reportedly wanted by Paris Saint-Germain while they were in talks with Barcelona over a move for Neymar. But the attacker refused to leave because he is at his dream club at Barcelona, according to L'Equipe.

- Former Juventus midfielder Claudio Marchisio is reportedly in talks with Monaco, but the 55-time Italy international turned down a move to Scottish giants Rangers, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport.

- Left out of the England squad, Manchester City defender Kyle Walker is worried he has no international future under Gareth Southgate, the Daily Star reports.

The Neymar transfer saga is over for at least another window, but it remains to be seen how the star responds at Paris Saint-Germain.

Neymar, 27, was largely expected to return to Barcelona, only for no agreement to be reached between the clubs before the window closed on Monday.

Unsurprisingly, the superstar forward is far from happy.

 

TOP STORY – NEYMAR ANGRY WITH PSG AFTER NOT GETTING BARCELONA RETURN

Neymar is very sad and deeply angry with PSG over his failed Barcelona move, according to Sport.

However, they also report Barcelona are convinced Neymar will return to Camp Nou in 2020.

Sport say Barca offered €150million – with €20m coming from Neymar – plus Ivan Rakitic and Jean-Clair Todibo on permanent deals and Ousmane Dembele on loan, only for the deal to be rejected.

ROUND-UP

- After plenty of debate, the Premier League will extend its close-season transfer window until September 1 next year, according to The Sun. Several clubs have been frustrated after they only had until August 8 to complete their business as the rest of Europe remained active.

- With Jill Ellis set to leave her post as United States head coach, the Women's World Cup winners have lined up England boss Phil Neville as their number one target to replace her, according to the Daily Mail.

- Manchester United are looking to the future. Sport Witness reports the Premier League giants sent scouts to watch Benfica duo Ruben Dias, 22, and Florentino Luis, 20, against Sporting Braga on Sunday, lining the pair up as two potential transfer targets.

- After collecting just five points from four Premier League games, Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is getting frustrated. Solskjaer is frustrated by the failures of Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial to score "scruffy" goals, according to The Athletic.

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