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Luis Enrique defends Neymar

Neymar - cropped Barcelona attacker Neymar against Bayer Leverkusen (source: Getty)

Barcelona coach Luis Enrique has defended Neymar in the wake of his below-par performance in the 2-1 Champions League win over Bayer Leverkusen on Tuesday.

The Catalans had to make do without the services of Lionel Messi at Camp Nou due to his knee injury, but Neymar failed to step up in the Argentina captain’s absence.

However, Luis Enrique was adamant that people cannot expect the former Santos star to just take Messi’s role as Barcelona’s main man.

“For me, Neymar did a good job against Leverkusen,” the Barca boss was quoted as saying by AS.

“The media has somehow created the idea that Neymar must do something extra now that Messi is injured, but it is not like that.

“It is not like the other players can just relax when Leo is there. We are a team and everybody always has to give 100 per cent.

“Of course, we would love it if all our players were on top of their game, but they all give everything for the team and are doing a great job.

“They cannot just step up their game because Messi is not there.”

Tuesday’s victory, which came courtesy of late goals from Sergi Roberto and Luis Suarez, saw Barcelona go top of Group E with four points from two games.

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