Neymar was in scintillating form again as his brace fired Barcelona to an ultimately-convincing 3-0 victory over Villarreal in La Liga on Sunday.
Claudio Bravo, Jordi Alba, Gerard Pique, Jeremy Mathieu and Munir El Haddadi were the quartet who came into Luis Enrique’s side, having missed Wednesday’s 3-0 victory over BATE Borisov in the Champions League.
The Yellow Submarine were also much-changed from their 2-1 Europa League win at Dinamo Minsk, with former Barca starlet Suarez named alongside fellow new additions Roberto Soldado and Samu Castillejo in attack.
In a half devoid of many chances, Villarreal got numbers back promptly to deal with the Barca juggernaut as Luis Suarez in particular saw many of his shots blocked by yellow shirts.
In fact, Barca’s best chance came through Mathieu, who broke down the left-hand side and fired an angled finish at Alphonse Areola’s legs, before Samu Castillejo mimicked the move at the other end.
The early stages of the restart proved more of the same, until a loss of concentration opened the floodgates for Sergio Busquets to play Neymar in behind with an angled through ball and the No 11 to apply a composed finish past Areola.
A huge sigh of relief could be heard around Camp Nou after Neymar’s finish, but Suarez put any doubts over the result to bed from the penalty spot, Munir El Haddadi clearly being wiped out in the box by Jaume Costa moments earlier.
However, the best was saved until last. Meeting Suarez’s low cross in the box, Neymar took a controlled touch, before flicking the ball over his marker and smashing the ball home on the volley to win all the plaudits and ensure Barca prepared for the Clasico with three points.
Barcelona 3-0 Villarreal
Neymar 60, pen 85, Suarez 70
Barcelona: Bravo; Alves, Pique (Bartra 82), Mathieu, Alba; Busquets, Sergi, Iniesta; Munir (Sandro 79), Luis Suarez, Neymar
Villarreal: Areola; Mario, Bonera, Ruiz, Costa; Jonathan, Pina (Bakambu 66), Bruno; Denis Suarez, Soldado, Castillejo (Samu 79)
Referee: Clos Gomez