Neymar bullish over Barcelona's comeback hopes

Barcelona will be relying on forwards Lionel Messi and Neymar to supply the goals to mount a comeback against Juventus. The Catalans need to score three to level the tie, after an abject first leg.
Barcelona will be relying on forwards Lionel Messi and Neymar to supply the goals to mount a comeback against Juventus. The Catalans need to score three to level the tie, after an abject first leg.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

BARCELONA • Barcelona striker Neymar is confident the Catalans can launch another remarkable Champions League comeback as they look to overturn a 3-0 quarter-final deficit against Juventus today.

Just as they had done in the previous round, when Barcelona overcame a 4-0 first-leg deficit to eliminate Paris Saint-Germain, the Spanish giants will be relying on Neymar to produce another magical performance. The Brazilian scored Barcelona's fourth and fifth goals in the last-16 second leg, setting up the sixth too, as they won 6-1 to progress 6-5 on aggregate.

Neymar should be well rested after missing Barcelona's 3-2 win over Real Sociedad on Saturday through suspension.

"We have to believe we can do it," Neymar told Brazilian television channel Esporte Interativo. "The other day my father told me one thing which has stayed in my head, and I think it's true. In front of us we have a different team, but Barcelona is the same... We did it once and we can do it a second time."

Barcelona are likely to be without Javier Mascherano as well as long-term absentees Aleix Vidal and Rafinha.

Juventus forward Paulo Dybala, who scored twice in the first leg, was taken off with an ankle injury as they won 2-0 at Pescara on Saturday, but should be fit to play.

Defender Georgio Chiellini saw Barcelona dismantle PSG and is wary of the threat they pose.

"We need to be compact and show no fear. (Barcelona) are like sharks who scent blood and finish you off," he told Sky Italia.

Juventus striker Gonzalo Higuain is also mindful that Barcelona are "capable of producing miracles".

"They need to watch out for us too though," he told Juventus TV. "We'll be looking to create opportunities to score and we're certain we have what it takes to reach the next round."

Barca boss Luis Enrique is expecting the Italian champions to find the net too.

"Bearing in mind the opponent could have chances and the goal can come at any moment, our objective is to score five," he told a press conference yesterday.

"Juventus have the semi-finals in their pocket and will have to decide whether to sit back or attack. We only have one option which is to attack, attack, and attack again."

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 19, 2017, with the headline 'Neymar bullish over Barcelona's comeback hopes'. Print Edition | Subscribe