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Luis Enrique urges Barcelona to cope without ´magical´ Neymar

Barcelona coach Luis Enrique has challenged his side to deal with Neymar’s absence after the forward sustained a groin injury in midweek.

Neymar pulled up in training on Tuesday prior to Barca’s 1-1 draw with Bayer Leverkusen a day later and will miss this weekend’s visit of Deportivo La Coruna to Camp Nou.

Strike partner Lionel Messi has shaken off a hamstring problem but Neymar is a doubt for the Club World Cup – with Barca travelling to Japan ahead of Thursday’s semi-final with Club America or Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao.

“There are always important players who are injured but it’s bad news whoever’s injured,” Luis Enrique said on Friday.

“What do we lose? A lot of things, individually it’s hard to compare players like Neymar with others but we have to find other solutions and make his absence noted as little as possible.

“It’s a question of looking through a global prism and adapting to his absence.

“[His season has been] very positive, but even last season and his first year he’s always been playing top-quality football.

“In his second season he set some fantastic stats and he’s continued to contribute a lot. He’s adapting very well to what this team needs. He’s a magical player who’s going to go down in football history.

“As well as everything he does for the team, he also scores goals so I’m very happy with what he’s doing.”

Barca have struggled with injuries this term but sit two points clear at the top of La Liga and could welcome back Sergi Roberto (ankle) and Jeremy Mathieu (thigh) this weekend.

Asked whether Sergi Roberto’s injury had derailed his breakthrough season at Barca, Luis Enrique added: “No I don’t think it’s going to change his spirit. It’s a part of football, you have to put up with knocks.

“Sergi Roberto is a quality player. In midfield we’ve had trouble this season. It’s always been a dificult area so it’s good news he’s recovering. Mathieu as well.

“Sergi Roberto is a very versatile player and he’s a player who can support the attack, he drops into defence and he reads the game well – he knows how to create pressure.

“He’s an essential player to have and that’s just the start of his virtues.”

Fri 11 Dec, 2015
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