By Tim Hanlon
REUTERS – The link-up play and understanding that Barcelona strike duo Neymar and Luis Suarez have developed in the absence of Lionel Messi was emphasised again in the Champions League victory over BATE Borisov.
Over the last few years there has been continual talk of a dependency on the magical skills of Messi at the Camp Nou, but with the Argentine out injured the attack has shown that it can shine without him.
Brazilian Neymar and Uruguayan Suarez between them have scored 18 of the last 21 goals for Barca and they have particularly come into form in recent matches with 13 goals from five games.
The pair set each other up for goals in the second half against BATE after Neymar had put Barca ahead from the penalty spot in the 3-0 win on Wednesday.
It means Barca are on the verge of qualifying from Group E with ten points from four games.
Still, Barca coach Luis Enrique reinforced the value of the four-times World Player of the Year Messi to the team.
“At the moment we are getting the results and we are playing well but we will always miss Messi,” Luis Enrique told reporters.
“We are showing at the moment that we do have other options.”
While Neymar and Suarez have been the driving force behind the side, Luis Enrique also pointed out the value of Sergio Busquets again having described him as the best midfielder in the world last week.
“I was happy with the game and the danger that we caused. Sergio had a perfect game, it is not possible to do any better than that, it was spectacular,” he said.
The only downside to the evening was an injury to midfielder Ivan Rakitic with important La Liga games coming up against Villarreal on Sunday and then the ‘El Clasico’ with Real Madrid on Nov 21.
Barca have been stretched by injuries this season and the FIFA transfer ban over the last two windows but they are still on course in La Liga, joint top with Real with 24 points from ten games.
(Reporting by Tim Hanlon in Barcelona, editing by Patrick Johnston)