herald

Tuesday 22 August 2017

Neymar aims to bring fine form into Ajax clash

Neymar is reproducing his Brazil form with Barcelona because the forward insists that he is now feeling more relaxed.

Neymar had a difficult first 2013-14 season in Spain with injuries and turmoil over his transfer fee, which was initially said to be worth 357.1million euros by the club but later turned out to be closer to 3100m.

All the major trophies escaped Barcelona but under new coach Luis Enrique they are top of La Liga after eight games and are yet to concede a goal.

However, defeat in their last Champions League outing against Paris St Germain has given tonight's clash with Ajax Amsterdam added importance.

Barca (three) are one point behind Group F leaders PSG while Ajax are on two and APOEL Nicosia have one.

"I don't know if this is a new version but I feel more at home, relaxed, and you notice this on the pitch," Neymar said.

"Everything is playing its role in my level improving. The trainer, the players, all this when you put them together gives you the results."

At 22 he is already the fifth highest scorer for Brazil with 40 goals and this season he has been on target eight times in La Liga having managed nine in the whole of the previous campaign.

Attention in Spain is on El Clasico this weekend between Barca and Real but Neymar said the players were fully focused on Ajax.

"We always go out to win but this is a match where we are up against a strong side who are good defensively and in attack so we will have to play well," he added.

Luis Enrique does not believe his players will have Real on their minds.

CONFIDENT

"I have no doubts about my team. I am fully confident about them against Ajax and also against Real at the Bernabeu," he said.

Ajax beat Barca in Amsterdam last season during the group stages and Luis Enrique is not underestimating them.

"They move the ball around well, they know how to pressure and don't take risks at the back," he said. "They are also strong on the counter-attack. They are a complete side which unites the qualities of Dutch football and the Ajax school.

"We have a good feeling and the team are winning most of our games. We lost against Paris St Germain for reasons that we know as we made errors but I think we are in an excellent position going into the matches ahead," said Luis Enrique.

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