Barcelona star Neymar's form praised by Ivan Rakitic, Javier Mascherano
Barcelona star Neymar was praised by teammates Ivan Rakitic and Javier Mascherano after the 2-0 Champions League win at BATE Borisov on Tuesday.
With Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta both sidelined by injury, Neymar, 23, has either scored or made all eight goals scored in their last three matches.
The Brazil captain laid on both against BATE for midfielder Rakitic, drawing defenders to him before releasing the ball for the Croatia international to score his first goals of the season.
Rakitic told El Larguero Neymar was playing "artfully" and said: "Hopefully he keeps going like this.
"Sometimes, it's better not to talk too much about it. He keeps speaking out on the pitch. He is playing artfully, and we hope it continues."
Rakitic said Neymar did not appear to be affected by ongoing issues surrounding his controversial summer 2013 move to Barca, with his old club Santos calling on FIFA to ban him for six months.
"I don't know, he looks the same to me," Rakitic said. "The same as when I met him the first day. Hopefully he keeps going, as he is a very important player for us."
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Mascherano told reporters after the game that while it was impossible for any one player to take over Messi's role in the team, others including Neymar were taking extra responsibility.
"[Neymar] is a great player," he said. "But you cannot compare Leo to anyone. He has no replacement. Neymar and [Luis] Suarez are two of the best players. They have to take a step forward and they have.
"But the rest of us also have responsibility. Now is when we must be together, waiting on people to return."
Barca have yet to find the swashbuckling form of last season but are nevertheless in control of their Champions League group and joint top of La Liga with Real Madrid and Celta Vigo.
"There are moments of form," Mascherano said. "We are not at our best level. We know that. The team can give much, much more. We want to keep improving."