Neymar will not be rushed
By Football News
Barcelona head coach Gerardo Martino has hinted he is unlikely to rush Neymar back from injury for their Copa del Rey semi-final.
Barca take a 2-0 lead into the second leg of their Copa match-up against Real Sociedad, and are on the verge of an 'El Clasico' final with rivals Real Madrid should they preserve their advantage at the Estadio Municipal de Anoeta on Wednesday.
Martino said Neymar - who has been sidelined with an ankle injury - got through training this week, but with a UEFA Champions League last-16 clash with Manchester City on Tuesday, the coach hinted the Brazilian star would remain on the sidelines as a precaution.
"Neymar got through training today with the whole team and he did it well without any pain," Martino said.
"Physically, he is alright, so we will see if we put him in tomorrow, or Saturday versus Rayo Vallecano. Obviously, we want him fit for Manchester City.
"I have said in another press conference that from my point of view even knowing that it is a very important game against City, we can't rush a player to come back.
"It could be before or after the City game. We will decide the best moment so that we don't risk the future of the player for other games."
On their clash with Sociedad, Martino said controlling the tempo would be key - with the home side needing to push to score or face elimination.
"I think it is very important to have control of the game and not to rush things too much," he said.
"They have some players that could cause us a lot of problems. To control the game and make sure we take our chances will be vital to secure the victory.
"We can't give Sociedad any space. It is true that the first game we finished with an advantage and that could make you think the game is over, but Real Sociedad will put on to the pitch the kind of game they are used to do.
"They will use a lot of attackers and will keep the ball.
"The first thing we have to do is to take the control of the ball and after not to let them have spaces for their strikers because technically are very good and also very quick over the pitch."
Martino said winning their semi-final tie would only put Barcelona closer to achieving one of their three goals for the season.
"Obviously, we are just 90 minutes away from playing in one of the three possible finals that we are trying to reach during the season," he said.
"It is clear that I believe it is good to have a strong team out for this match because I want to play in the final in February and I want to win this competition."