Barca rely on Neymar in Messi’s abscence

Published 10/20/2015, 1:52 AM EDT
Barcelona’s Neymar gestures as he arrives for a training session at Joan Gamper training camp, near Barcelona, Spain, October 19, 2015. REUTERS/Albert Gea?


MINSK (Reuters) – Barcelona are hopeful Neymar’s rich vein of form will help the Spanish and European champions cope during the glaring absence of injured talisman Lionel Messi, midfielder Sergio Busquets said on Monday.

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Messi damaged knee ligaments in a La Liga game at the end of September and the prolific Argentina forward is not expected to return until the middle of next month.

Brazil forward Neymar hit four goals past Rayo Vallecano and set one up for Luis Suarez in a brilliant performance in Saturday’s 5-2 La Liga win at the Nou Camp and has a league-leading eight in Spain’s top flight this term.

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“The system is the same and we all have to contribute a bit more but it is impossible not to feel Messi’s absence,” Busquets told a news conference previewing Tuesday’s Champions League Group E match at BATE Borisov.

“He’s the one who scores the most goals and makes the most assists,” added the Spain international.

“But Neymar is also a leader for his playing style and what he brings to the team.

“When he is on form it has a big impact and we hope his good run continues now that Messi can’t be with us.”

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Barca, chasing a fourth European triumph in eight years, drew their opening match in the group at AS Roma 1-1 before fighting back from a goal down to beat Bayer Leverkusen 2-1 at the Nou Camp in their second outing.

The last time they faced BATE, in the 2011-12 group stage, they hammered the perennial Belarussian champions 5-0 in Minsk and 4-0 in the return game in Barcelona.

BATE, who have former Barca and Arsenal midfielder Alexander Hleb in their ranks, secured a 10th successive Belarus championship after a 2-0 victory against Vitebsk on Friday.

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(Writing by Iain Rogers, editing by Martyn Herman)

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Dhruv George

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Dhruv George is a senior Formula One and NASCAR analyst for EssentiallySports, having authored nearly 12000 articles spanning different sports like F1, NASCAR, Tennis, NFL, and eSports. He graduated with a PG Diploma in Journalism from the Xavier Institute of Communications. Dhruv has also conducted interviews with F1 driver Pierre Gasly and Moto2 rider Tony Arbolino.

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