Barcelona coach Luis Enrique revealed that Neymar’s absence from the 4-0 win over Almeria was simply down to fatigue, after hailing his side’s intensity against the Liga strugglers.
The Catalan giants made it nine wins in a row in all competitions with a comfortable home success, a result that keeps them four points clear at the top of the table.
Luis Suarez scored twice, while Lionel Messi and Marc Bartra also netted.
Neymar sat out the entire match on the bench but afterwards, Luis Enrique said the Brazilian’s no-show was simply down to a hectic recent schedule.
“Neymar is the only one who didn’t get a rest with his national team. So [tonight] I called [up] Pedro Rodriguez, who was in the best possible condition,” the Barca coach said.
“We won the match with the intensity we showed,” he added.
“It wasn’t an easy game and our intensity was good, even if we’re not fresh. We’re strengthened to go to Sevilla [on Saturday].”
Luis Enrique also offered his thoughts on Xavi’s future, with the 35-year-old widely expected to leave the club in the close-season and move to the Middle East.
Reports suggest that Barca have made a last-ditch bid to keep the former Spain playmaker, and Luis Enrique admitted he would be keen for Xavi to stay.
“He has the affection of all the Catalans and any football lover,” he added.
“He knows it and feels it. I would like him to continue helping us, but I understand he wants other experiences. Whatever he chooses will be good for Barca.”
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