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Barca Manages Neymar Loss
Sports

Barca Manages Neymar Loss

When Paris Saint-Germain stunned the football world by paying 222 million euros for Neymar’s services, most observers felt that Barcelona would struggle throughout the 2017/18 campaign.
However, quite the opposite has been true and it is fair to say that after going into the Christmas break unbeaten, the Catalans have actually been better off since the departure of the Brazilian, Marca reported.
Though they were not comparable to the brilliant blaugrana sides of the past that have gone to the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu and won, Ernesto Valverde’s side matched their counterparts with a 3-0 victory on December 23.
Real Madrid was superior in the first half and even at 2-0 down and with a man less, they generated a handful of chances. And yet, with everyone moving as a block and covering each other, Barcelona saw out the win to send them 14 points clear at the top.
“What we have been doing so far this season, together, compact, pressing and taking advantage of the opportunities, this [win] is a result of that,” Luis Suarez enthused after the game. It’s certainly a different Barcelona yes, but no less successful.
Neymar’s departure and Ousmane Dembele’s injury forced the team to reinvent itself. At the Bernabeu their change of style was clear, and for the first time in a long time Madrid had more possession after 45 minutes.
Barcelona decided to wait, regroup, close down space and wait for their chance. Refusing to expose themselves to the rapid transitions of Madrid, Valverde advocated control even when the visitors had space to go on the counterattack.
Ivan Rakitic played as a second pivot at times alongside Busquets, with Iniesta lending a hand for ball recovery. More supportive to each other right across the pitch, it was the new, collective, Barcelona at work.
Hence, in 17 league games so far this season, they have only conceded seven goals. More solvent without the ball and more direct than usual, Neymar’s departure does not seem to be all bad news after all.

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