Lionel Messi, Neymar, Luis Suarez Told by Luis Enrique 'Do Better at Penalties'

Rory MarsdenFeatured ColumnistFebruary 18, 2016

GIJON, SPAIN - FEBRUARY 17:  Luis Suarez of FC Barcelona reacts during the La Liga match between Sporting Gijon and FC Barcelona at Estadio El Molinon on February 17, 2016 in Gijon, Spain.  (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)
Denis Doyle/Getty Images

Barcelona manager Luis Enrique has urged Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez to be more effective from the penalty spot after the Uruguayan missed from 12 yards in Wednesday's 3-1 win over Sporting Gijon.

Messi got his 300th and 301st Primera Division goals in the match, and Suarez put his spot-kick woes behind him to net the third as Barca moved six points clear at the top of La Liga.

Enrique was clearly happy with the performance—it was Barca's 31st game in succession without defeat—but he did call on his superlative attacking trio to improve their penalty-taking, per the Press Association (via MailOnline): 

It is a privilege to have Messi whoever you are playing against. Suarez's goal did us a lot of good because it took off some of the pressure. We obviously need to do better from penalties but we have every confidence in Luis, Messi and Neymar. They're three great penalty takers.

Highlights of the clash against Sporting can be seen below:

On Sunday against Celta Vigo, Messi and Suarez hit the headlines as their cheeky penalty exchange resulted in Barca going 4-1 ahead in a 6-1 thrashing, per Sky Sports La Liga:

Accusations the move was disrespectful were aimed at the pair, but Bleacher Report's Sam Tighe pointed out Messi was perhaps simply trying to guarantee a goal was scored as his conversion record from the spot is surprisingly poor (prior to Sunday's pass to Suarez from 12 yards, Messi vs. Ronaldo had the Argentinian as missing 16 of his 79 career penalties):

And it is not exclusive to the Argentinian.

As noted by ESPN's Paul Carr, while Messi, Suarez and Neymar have been cementing their place in the history books this season as the best attacking trio of all time, they have missed a combined eight out of 16 penalties:

Team-mate Aleix Vidal does not see it is as a huge problem, though, per Movistar TV (via Sport): "I don't think it should [be] looked upon too badly. If we score a lot of goals it's for a reason."

But it is arguably the Barca attack's only weakness, and Enrique is correct to call on the trio to improve from the penalty spot, as it could prove costly if they keep missing with such regularity.

A Messi miss against Chelsea in the semi-finals of the Champions League in 2012 was at least partially to blame for Barca's elimination from the tournament that year.

The Catalans are unquestionably capable of beating any side in the world from open play.

But it is not totally unrealistic to think that at some point in the latter stages of the season—with Barca going for a second consecutive treble—a key penalty could fall to Messi, Neymar or Suarez.

Enrique is clearly eager to know that, if and when that time comes, any one of them will be confident of converting.