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Luis Enrique Praises Neymar After Brilliant Display

Luis Enrique compared Neymar to a ballerina after the Brazilian’s fine form continued in Barcelona’s 4-1 win over Villarreal at Camp Nou on Saturday.

Neymar opened the scoring in the first half, but it was his trickery and showboating which brought the home supporters to their feet in the second period.

In the build up to Barca’s fourth goal, which eventually came from the penalty spot, he produced a piece of skill which completely bamboozled defender Mario Gaspar and took him out of the game.

“Neymar interprets football completely differently to other players, even to other Brazilians,” Luis Enrique said in his postgame news conference.

“I barely have enough time to even see the majority of his dribbles. It’s a huge pleasure to watch him.

“Any football fan has to appreciate what Neymar does, which sometimes seems more like ballet than dribbling. It’s beautiful, it’s effective and it’s spectacular. Time will tell if he can mark an era.”

Barca defender Gerard Pique also purred about his teammate’s performance, taking the chance to take a dig at those who have suggested in the past that his showboating is unnecessarily provocative.

“Neymar is a player with exceptional characteristics,” Pique told BeIn after the game.

“He’s magical, although we’re in an era in which it seems that magic is penalised and perhaps it’s seen as better to give [someone] a kick than to provide a spectacle. Players like Neymar make football much better.”

Lionel Messi also scored twice against Villarreal and Luis Suarez was always on target as Barca’s attacking trio took their combined total for the season past 100 for a third consecutive campaign.

“Years ago there was just one crack in a team [in attack] and all we heard was that there was only room for one per side,” Luis Enrique added when asked about his dynamic forward line.

“Then Neymar came and there were doubts, people said there would be tension, that you couldn’t have two cracks in the same team… and now look — there are three cracks. Let’s enjoy them.”

Barca still lead Real Madrid at the top of the table courtesy of their superior head-to-head record, but Zinedine Zidane’s side have a game in hand and need just two wins and a draw from their remaining three games to clinch a first title since 2012.