Barcelona’s Neymar: Playing with duo ‘an honour’

Neymar: Playing with Messi and Suarez 'an honour'. Picture: Getty
Neymar: Playing with Messi and Suarez 'an honour'. Picture: Getty
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BARCELONA forward Neymar can hardly wait to play in his first ever Champions League final.

Neymar has followed in a rich tradition of Brazilian players to wear the Barca jersey but not all of them have lifted the Champions League trophy while at the club.

“To play in the final is a dream that I’ve had as a boy and I’m very close to it,” Neymar said to Spanish TV station TVE in the build-up to the match against Juventus in Berlin tonight.

“We hope we play a great game and we win.”

The Spanish champions last won the competition in 2011 and were eliminated last season by Atletico Madrid in the quarter-finals in Neymar’s first year at the club.

Neymar has scored nine goals in the Champions League this season, one fewer than team-mate Lionel Messi, who is the tournament’s leading scorer.

The 23-year-old forms a star-studded attacking trio alongside Messi and Luis Suarez that has combined for 120 goals in all competitions.

“To play with Messi and Luis Suarez is a pleasure,” the Brazil international said. “It’s an honour to play with two football giants as they are.”

Barca, under first-year coach Luis Enrique, have enjoyed a hugely successful campaign already. They won the Spanish title and claimed a record 27th Copa del Rey trophy.

Juve, who eliminated Barca’s arch-rivals Real Madrid in the semi-finals of Europe’s elite club competition, have also enjoyed a successful season under coach Massimiliano Allegri in his first year at the club.

The Italian champions won the domestic double for the first time since the 1994-95 campaign. Juve lost just three of 38 Serie A games and finished 17 points clear of nearest rivals Roma.

Beating them will be no easy task, according to Neymar.

“Juve are a dangerous side at the back, in the middle and up front,” he said. “It’s no fluke that they are in the final.”

Barca are the only Spanish club to have won a Primera Division, Champions League and Copa del Rey treble, having done so under Pep Guardiola in 2008-09. Victory tonight would complete Barca’s repetition of that feat and hand Neymar his first treble.