Recovery in home straight, says Neymar
Sao Paulo: Barcelona forward Neymar has almost recovered from a foot injury and hopes to play in Saturday’s Spanish league decider against Atletico Madrid, the Brazilian said in an internet chat with fans on Monday.
The 22-year-old will have a late fitness test before the game, one that Barcelona have to win to take the La Liga title for the fifth time in six seasons.
Neymar also said he would be back to full fitness for Brazil`s World Cup campaign, which begins next month.
“I am in the home straight in terms of recovery and I’ll see if I am able to play (Saturday),” Neymar told fans. “I am back training.”
Having lost in the Champions League to Atletico and the Copa del Rey to Real Madrid, La Liga is Barcelona’s last chance for silverware this season and Neymar said they would give it their all.
Saturday`s clash between Atletico and Barca at the Nou Camp will be only the third "winner takes all" match on the final day of the campaign in history and the first since 1951.
A win or a draw would be enough for Atletico, while Barca need to beat the Madrid club to triumph by virtue of a superior head-to-head record, used to separate teams if they finish level on points.
“We are really ready for this,” he said. “Atletico have a great team, great players and it is going to be hard to beat them but we have no other choice other than to go for it."
Neymar has struggled with injuries this year. He pulled a muscle that kept him out for several weeks in January and February and then injured the fourth metatarsal of his left foot in the Copa del Rey final against Real Madrid in April.
However, he said the worst was over and promised to be 100 percent fit for the World Cup, the first to be held in Brazil since 1950.
“I was a bit anxious over the call-up but after it happened I was really happy,” he said of last week’s squad announcement.
“The penny hasn’t dropped yet, that will only happen once we’re there. There’s no reason for me to be nervous or feel pressure, you’re in your own country, with your family.”
Neymar, who is thinking about getting a new hairstyle for the World Cup and plans to rehearse goal celebrations with his team mates, said he had told Barca team mate Lionel Messi that Argentina can forget about winning the World Cup in Brazil.
“I told him: ‘There’s no way you’re going to do that in Brazil,’” Neymar said. “Our fans alone make it 1-0 to us.”
Brazil play the opening game of the tournament on June 12 against Croatia in Sao Paulo. Rio hosts the final on July 13.