Barcelona: Barcelona forward Neymar will miss Sunday’s La Liga game at Deportivo La Coruna with a thigh problem, the club said on Saturday, depriving the champions of the hero of their stunning 6-1 midweek Champions League win over Paris St Germain.
The Brazilian, who scored two of Barca’s three late goals to complete a historic comeback from a 4-0 first-leg loss to the French champions, missed training on Saturday along with compatriot Rafinha who was suffering from gastroenteritis and has also been left out of the squad for Sunday’s game.
Barca lead Real Madrid by a point at the top of the table while their arch-rivals have a game in hand and host struggling Real Betis hours after Barca visit Deportivo, who are unbeaten in their three games under new coach Pepe Mel. Barca manager Luis Enrique admitted his side faced a challenge in coming down from the cloud of emotion over their exploits on Wednesday but said he trusted his players to prepare appropriately for the game at Deportivo.
“Without doubt it’s something we have to be aware of and overcome but I trust the wisdom and sense of my players to realise that we’re in the final stretch of the season and that we have everything to play for,” Luis Enrique told reporters. “We’re also playing teams with the same desire as us so it will be very tough. We prepare for every game with the same intensity , every game has the same award and we won’t change anything.”
Wednesday’s epic win over PSG booked Barca’s place in next Friday’s Champions League quarter-final draw, restoring their hopes of winning a second treble in three years. “We know everything is still yet to be decided, that there will be eight teams left in the Champions League, we’re fighting for the title with two teams and we’re in the cup final. That can mean we win zero trophies, one, two or three,” Luis Enrique said.
“What happened on Wednesday gives everyone more motivation but we’ve always been united as a team and we know how to deal with a situation like this. It’s great to celebrate trophies but sometimes you have the right mentality to dig in together to overcome defeats.”