Why Neymar and Andres Iniesta Need to Work Better Together
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Neymar and Andres Iniesta are two of Barcelona's brightest talents and, along with Lionel Messi, Xavi Hernandez et al, are among the first names manager Gerardo Martino will put down on his team sheet.
The Brazilian starlet has already begun to demonstrate his maturity in a footballing sense and has settled in well at Camp Nou. He's certainly dispelled any initial belief that he was overrated.
Queens Park Rangers midfielder Joey Barton was one footballing professional who voiced his—none too kind—opinion on the player when rumours of an imminent deal to Barca first began to surface earlier this year.
Via his Twitter account (per Goal.com), Barton mused:
Neymar is the Justin Bieber of football. Brilliant on the old YouTube. Cat piss in reality.
Its amazing what some decent YouTube footage can achieve. I'll have to get one up doing some keepy-ups in the garden.
Neymar's actually been one of their livelier players tonight... But people should stop chatting pony. He isn't in the same stratosphere as the boy Messi and that Ronaldo fella...
The perceived slight on the youngster was ill-conceived at best, and his hardworking performances for Barca have already won over the critics.
Neymar's teammate for club and country, Dani Alves, even went as far as to say, per the Daily Record:
He is one of the few players that, when he was born God said, "You will be THE player."
He's part of a great team and Planet Football will be watching. The world will start knowing him better and see what he's capable of.
Linking up with Neymar down the left side at Barca is Andres Iniesta. The diminutive Spaniard has, at times, been at his impish best already this season.
Ghosting in from nowhere, threading a ball through the "eye of a needle" and the delicious pirouettes have all been on show, as has his telepathic partnership with Xavi Hernandez.
However the dovetailing with Neymar seems to be an area that needs some work and perhaps a bit more time. On a few occasions already this season, a move that has fluidity and finesse becomes staccato when worked down the left channel.
Although Neymar especially had a great game at the weekend against Sevilla, it was noticeable that when he and Iniesta were linking, the play seemed a little forced.
If we look at Messi-Pedro-Alves on the opposite side as an example, the flow of play is more natural there, the movement more definite and precise.
Neymar needs to have a deeper appreciation of the space around him and more of an understanding of why and how Barcelona use that space to maximum effect, rather than inhabiting much the same area as Iniesta.
It should improve his own off-the-ball movement immeasurably in the process. His preference to either cut inside or play in with Messi aren't always the most viable options.
Iniesta certainly has the nous to complement the youngster's learning curve, but his purposeful drives into the box are being halted by the Brazilian's movement—and that in turn is curtailing the goalscoring threat from the left side.
The need for the same is obvious, and Neymar was brought in to fulfill that obligation. Once his on-field relationship clicks with Iniesta, we're likely to see fireworks.
Imagining how potent that left-side attacking trident (Neymar-Iniesta-Alba) will be once the cogs are oiled sufficiently and working effortlessly is a tantalising prospect for Barca fans.
It will be a nightmare scenario for defenders, so Gerard Martino must be hoping the Neymar-Iniesta marriage bears fruit as soon as possible because the honeymoon is already over.
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