London - Barcelona forward Neymar again showed he is capable
of providing leadership and impetus in the absence of Lionel Messi during their
Champions League victory over BATE Borisov.
With Messi missing for two months with a knee injury the
responsibility has fallen on the shoulders of Neymar to drive Barca from the
front and he has risen to the occasion.
Last Saturday he hit four goals in the Catalan side's
demolition of Rayo Vallecano in La Liga and then on Tuesday he provided both
assists for Ivan Rakitic's double in the 2-0 victory over BATE.
Also read: Neymar showing he's ready to make list of top 3 in the world
"I think it is the case that Neymar has taken up a roll
where he participates more in the build up of play with Messi not there,"
Barca defender Marc Bartra told reporters.
"He is playing well and with the quality that we have
in attack it is important that players like he and Suarez keep scoring the
goals for us."
In contrast to Uruguayan Luis Suarez, who has had a quiet
start to the season by his own high standards, Neymar is showing that he has a
lot more to his game than just goals and fancy footwork.
He is able to pick the ball up in deeper areas of the pitch
and provide the vision which Barca need with Messi and Andres Iniesta in the treatment
Still Barca are not showing the same lethal finishing as
last season when their three forwards hit 122 goals between them on the way to
winning the treble.
They now have a comfortable three point lead in Champions
League Group E and are joint top of La Liga but the first half against BATE was
another example where they struggled to finish off the chances they made.
"Neymar is a great player but Leo is incomparable and
there is no way you can replace him," Javier Mascherano told reporters.
"Neymar and Suarez are among the best players in the
world, they needed to step up and fill the gap which is what is happening but
it is also the responsibility of the rest of the team.
"We are not at top level in front of goal and we are
aware of that the team can do more but with work we will get there."For
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