BARCELONA (Reuters) - Barcelona coach Luis Enrique has told Neymar to carry on regardless after the Brazilian received criticism for provoking Atletico Madrid players with his “nutmegging and talking”.
Juanfran and Fernando Torres argued with two-goal Neymar at halftime in Barca’s midweek King’s Cup quarter-final victory while opposition captain Gabi Fernandez was red-carded after a fracas in the tunnel.
Atletico substitute Ruben Cani said after the game that “one day he will have problems for his style of play, the nutmegging and talking”.
Luis Enrique went on the counter attack on Saturday, saying there was nothing wrong.
“You have to consider the player and the culture from where he is from,” the Barca coach told reporters ahead of Sunday’s La Liga game at home to Villarreal.
”Brazilians look to enjoy themselves playing football and it is the same for all the Brazilian players at the club. We are in a strange country where people are more offended by a nutmeg than by five dangerous tackles.
“Hopefully he can be remembered as a great player and he is certainly at the right club at the moment to achieve that. It would be great if it happened,” said Luis Enrique.
“Lionel Messi is the best player in the world and he has put the marker very high if he is to achieve that. If you take away football, samba and so on then a Brazilian is no longer Brazilian.”
Barca are a point behind leaders Real Madrid in La Liga and face a tough clash against sixth-placed Villarreal who are on an 18-match unbeaten run.
“They move the ball around well, they have strong defensive tactical discipline. They are doing very well at the moment and we will try and break their run although it will be difficult,” said Luis Enrique.
”The team is continually in evolution and we change depending on how we cause most problems for the opposition. This is down to whether we are against a side which is defending deeply or one that comes out to attack us.
“The key is to have different options to play and not be predictable,” added Luis Enrique.
Editing by Tony Jimenez