Four-midable Neymar thrilling La Liga in Messi's absence

David Cartlidge 16:40 19/10/2015
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  • Star man: Neymar.

    After a pulsating round of La Liga, David Cartlidge looks back at another dazzling display from Neymar, the dominating form of this season's surprise package Celta Vigo and Getafe's resurgence on and off the pitch.

    – La Liga: Neymar gives thanks for penalty confidence
    – EPL: De Bruyne says Sterling link-up can boost City

    With no Lionel Messi at hand, it’s up to Barcelona’s other stars – and there are a few of them – to step up in the absence of the Argentinean. Neymar took that task pretty seriously on Saturday and notched up four goals to hand Barca a comfortable win over Rayo Vallecano. It was comforting in two manners. The first being Barca start off on the right foot after the International break, after falling foul just prior to it with a loss at Sevilla. The second is it shows Neymar now understands his responsibilities in the grand scheme of things at the club. He is a star in his own right, absolutely, and this time without Messi around is a perfect time for the Brazilian to put down a marker and reassure supporters life does go on without their iconic star.

    Neymar’s performance was a mash up of all his dazzling array of abilities. Situated from his traditional wide post, the 23-year-old was given license to roam and did so with devastating results. Neymar can drift, but he can also dart too. Mixing the grace with sheer direct, punishing movement is an unsettling mix for any opponent and the Brazilian proved time and time again on Saturday his talent must be taken seriously. The performance had the hoards flocking to Camp Nou on their feet, and his manager too.

    "Neymar is electric and at the moment defenders only have two choices when facing him: commit a penalty or let him score," Luis Enrique told a press conference. Neymar also admitted himself that the performance was one of his best since joining the club in 2013, as he notched four goals in a single game for the very first time. Such is the demands at the club and that he places upon himself, Neymar also declared the need to maintain this form.

    Barca, still chaotic in defence and generally yet to click as a unit, will indeed need the player to step up more. An away trip to BATE Borisov comes as soon as Tuesday evening, and it provides another opportunity to see how Barca, often slack physically this season, respond to such demands. Neymar will be raring to go though, having scored 10 goals in the competition last season, finishing as the top scorer alongside Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. It could be a memorable week indeed for the star.

    Celta produce another belter

    Celta Vigo will end the weekend as La Liga leaders and you can’t say they don’t deserve it. After beating Barcelona already this season, plus taking down Sevilla on their travels, Celta built on both performances to beat Villarreal at El Madrigal on Sunday morning.

    In one of the showcase games of the weekend, Celta produced a determined performance to put them top of the table and again increase their credentials as the must-watch team of La Liga 15/16 so far. Eduardo Berizzo’s men are a joy to watch, producing an exciting, easy on the eye brand of football pinned up by their dazzling front three of Nolito, Iago Aspas, and Fabian Orellana. Not only that, but they can get tough too. They dug in at times against Villarreal to soak up pressure and get the dirty tasks done, before releasing the ball to their electric attacking trio.

    Nolito is the player grabbing the headlines recently – justifiably so as he’s an excellent player – but it was his strike partner Orellana who deserved the plaudits on Sunday. First he provided the goal to hand Celta the lead, a fine strike in which he opened up his body before unleashing a precision shot from outside the area. Then he produced a moment of brilliance at the death before unleashing a shot that struck the bar, only to cannon out to the feet of Nolito who dispatched for his sixth goal of the season. Orellana is very much Celta’s own Alexis Sanchez, a Chilean magician with lighting quick feet and the ability to burst away from defenders leaving dust in their eyes.

    The win put Celta top, and kept intact their unbeaten run this season. Along with Real Madrid they are the only team yet to lose in La Liga, and next up it’s, you’ve guessed it, Real Madrid. Balaidos could well be rocking on Saturday evening should their own version of Barcelona’s MSN strike up another powerhouse display.

    Getafe find love in a hopeless place

    Getafe have attracted a lot of attention of the field this week, but when on it they can also deliver the goods. They hammered Las Palmas 4-0, and are now three games unbeaten with two wins in that period. Impressive, but maybe not as much as their marketing men. The side from Madrid hit the headlines this week as they unveiled an App encouraging fans to interact with each other from within the stadium on matchdays; from there they can share photos, videos and other bits to meet and greet on match days.

    It’s basically Tinder crossed with your general run of the mill football App. So there you go, Getafe, making the right moves on the field – and off it too.