Barcelona have had their thunder stolen before Sunday’s Club World Cup final in Japan, with endless questions about hot-shot Santos striker Neymar rammed down their throats daily. The Spanish and European champions, bidding to win the 7-team competition for the second time in three years, boast arguably the world’s best player in Lionel Messi.
Yet try as Barcelona might not to talk about Neymar, the name of the 19-year-old Brazil forward so coveted by Europe’s biggest clubs keeps cropping up.
“Neymar is a very dangerous player,” Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola said on the eve of a mouth-watering final. “I expect a cracking game.”
Neymar has set tongues wagging in Japan, Brazil's pin-up boy scoring a wonder goal as he sparked Santos to a 3-1 semi-final win over J-League champions Kashiwa Reysol.
“We watched Santos on TV and individually they're very dangerous,” said Barcelona midfielder Cesc Fabregas, grinning sheepishly as he anticipated what was coming next.
“Neymar is a brilliant player. But it's not just about him.”