Neymar and Messi back in tandem for Barcelona

Posted by Dermot Ledwith

The attacking duo that all Barcelona fans are pinning their hopes on could be back in business this weekend after successful midweek run outs for Lionel Messi and Neymar with their national teams.

If Barca coach Gerardo Martino deems Saturday's outing against an improving Sevilla side to be tough enough, we could yet again enjoy the presence of both players in Barca's starting 11 for only the third time.

Messi hit two important penalties in Argentina's win in Paraguay that made his national team the first from South America to guarantee qualification to the Brazil World Cup. He also showed great vision to chest the ball into the path of Sergio Aguero for Argentina's second goal, and it is that kind of understanding Barcelona fans will be hoping he can soon strike up with Neymar.

Also Tuesday, a bit further up the road in North America, Neymar Jr. (as he is happy to be known as on the back of his Barca shirt) helped his Brazil side to a 3-1 friendly victory over Portugal in Massachusetts.

It was in the 34th minute with the score locked at 1-1 that Neymar picked up the ball deep in midfield and started a diagonal run past four Portuguese defenders before hitting a superb right-footed finish. In a way it was reminiscent of so many goals scored by Messi over the years where no defender was ever going to stop him.

While the Brazilian shone with that strike and had a hand in the other Brazil goals, it was the toughness he showed when bullied by the Portuguese defenders, the ability to ride tackles and not react to physical aggression that will stand him in good stead when his Spanish career begins to really get going.

Until now we've only been afforded the luxury of the two players starting one league game together, the 3-2 win at Valencia, and while Messi hit a first-half hat trick it was Cesc Fabregas who was more of an influence that day with two assists.

However, there were signs of an understanding between the two on Messi's third goal, when Neymar attacked the Valencia defence from the left and passed for the Argentinian to hit first time for an easy finish.

When the ball hit the net the Brazilian was first to reach Messi and provide us with a celebration that could become regular viewing in the near future.

Nonstop press speculation in Spain, a lot of it generated in Madrid, has continuously promoted the idea that the two players would not be able to perform together in the same team and tension could potentially exist between the two.

To counter that speculation both have been complimentary about the other when constantly questioned about their relationship and how they feel they can play together.

Neymar has always stressed that the Argentine is the best player in the World, while Messi was assuring the press the Brazilian would fit in with his Barca side even before the new player had arrived at the Nou Camp.

After Tuesday's win he again spoke, this time to the Argentine press, to stress that Neymar's introduction to the team is going well and there is nothing to worry about.

"We are getting to know each other on the pitch and each of us is adapting our game to the other, the truth is it is a joy that he is with us," Messi said before offering the opinion that it could be "a great year with lots of titles."

For that to happen the two players have to strike up an understanding and they have time to do that. It is still months away from any titles being decided, but it could be Sevilla who pay the price Saturday if Martino decides they are both ready to start.

The Argentine coach may still prefer to keep one or both of them fresh for the visit of Ajax next Tuesday and signs of tiredness from journeys home may also affect Martino's decision, but what is sure is both will be keen to renew their partnership and silence the words of the doubters as to their compatibility.


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