Rivals defend Neymar after criticism for late-game antics
Even rivals are coming out to defend Neymar after his late-game antics got him into trouble in the Spanish league.
The Brazil forward use his ball trickery in Barcelona’s 5-1 win over Leganes last week, prompting a wave of criticism from people who accused him of showing off and trying to provoke opponents. Neymar appeared to ignore the un-written convention that top players should not make lesser opponents look foolish.
Three key former players who turned coaches supported Neymar yesterday, the day before Barcelona’s game against rival Atletico Madrid.
With the victory safely secured on Saturday, Neymar used backheel passes and other nifty moves against Leganes defenders. He scored one of the team’s goals in the 44th minute and was fouled inside the area — leading to a penalty kick converted by Lionel Messi in the 55th.
Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said he didn’t think Neymar was disrespecting his opponents.
Barcelona coach Luis Enrique said Neymar’s style shouldn’t surprise anybody.
Barcelona is bracing for another hard-fought match against Atletico Madrid.
The teams meet today in the first big game of the season in Spain — the first encounter between the clubs since Atletico eliminated Barcelona quarterfinals of last Champions League.
Barcelona is second in the standings with nine points, three less than leader Real Madrid. Atletico is fourth, four points behind Madrid after four rounds.
Both teams have their top players available and are boosted by huge wins.
Barcelona was stunned at home by promoted Alaves two weeks ago but rebounded with a 5-1 rout of Leganes on Saturday. It also trounced Celtic 7-0 in the Champions League. Atletico began the league with consecutive draws but picked up the pace with a 4-0 win at Celta Vigo and a 5-0 thrashing of Sporting Gijon. in the season’s
Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale are expected to return to Real Madrid’s starting lineup for the game against unbeaten Villarreal at the Santiago Bernabeu today.
The Spanish powerhouse has a chance to set a record with its 17th straight league victory. Madrid is tied with Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona from the 2010-11 season, which won 16 in a row.
Madrid is the only team to have won all four matches to start the league and has a threepoint lead over Barcelona and Las Palmas.
Ronaldo and Bale were rested in the team’s 2-0 win at Espanyol on Sunday after a hardfought 2-1 win over Sporting Lisbon League.
Zidane will not be able to count on defender Pepe because of a knee injury sustained at Espanyol. La Liga in the Champions
Yesterday Malaga-Eibar ..................................... 2-1 Sevilla-Betis ...................................... late Today Celta Vigo-Gijon Real Madrid-Villarreal Barcelona-Atl. Madrid Granada CF-Ath Bilbao Real Sociedad-Las Palmas Tomorrow Dep. La Coruna-Leganes Osasuna-Espanyol Valencia-Alaves