Neymar to be given extended break
Barcelona coach Gerardo Martino has said Neymar will be allowed leave for Brazil this week to begin his winter break early and get some rest.
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The Brazil attacker, 21, headed the 11th goal of his Barca career in Tuesday’s 3-0 Copa del Rey last-32 second leg game against Cartagena at the Camp Nou, his last appearance of 2013 because he is suspended for Sunday’s La Liga trip to Getafe.
Martino told his postmatch news conference he had decided to allow Neymar an extra-long break because he had little rest last summer because of commitments with the Brazil side and his former club Santos.
“Neymar will go to Brazil this Thursday where he will have 10 days of rest,” he said. “He has had practically no rest for months.”
Neymar has made 22 Barca appearances since joining for 74 million euros in the summer, starting 20 games and contributing 10 assists.
And Martino said: “He has adapted well to the club and he knows the role he has to play. He is much loved by everyone here.”
Tuesday’s result brought an aggregate 7-1 victory over the Segunda B side and set up a potentially trickier two-legged last-16 clash with Getafe in early January.
Martino said he was happy with the performance of a Blaugrana side including squad players such as Alex Song and Sergi Roberto -- and also saw Carles Puyol complete 90 minutes at the Camp Nou for the first time in nine months.
“We did not play perfectly but our mentality was correct,” the coach added. “The most positive thing is that we were serious in our approach to the game. We respected our opponent and the fans that came to watch the match.”