By Tim Hanlon
Barcelona will be missing the lethal touch of Neymar in attack for the UEFA Super Cup against Sevilla on Tuesday but they can still call on an unsettled Pedro to provide reliable back-up.
Pedro has been strongly linked with a move to Manchester United and the news that Neymar will be out for an expected two weeks with the mumps is exactly why the Catalan club are loathe to allow the homegrown talent to leave Camp Nou.
He had limited chances though in the second half of last season with Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar all remaining largely injury free on the way to hitting a Spanish record 122 goals among them as Barca won the treble.
Neymar’s pace and trickery which he showed to good effect with a goal and his overall performance in last week’s Gamper Trophy win over Roma will be missed against Europa League champions Sevilla but coach Luis Enrique values Pedro for his dependability when given a chance.
Ex-Sevilla midfielder Ivan Rakitic is also looking sharp, hitting a 30-yard drive into the top corner against Roma, and he pointed out the strength of the team as a whole.
“Everyone knows the importance that Leo and Neymar have but the other players are as well. It is important that we have confidence and show what we can do,” Rakitic told reporters.
“I am a big fan of Sevilla but not in this match. I am now at this club and I will give my best for it and the fans here.”
It is a big season for Rakitic who will look to consolidate his position in midfield which he took over from Barca legend Xavi.
While Xavi was more of a midfield organiser, the Croat prefers to get up and down the pitch.
“The team is playing differently and when you get into positions to shoot you need to take them,” said Rakitic.
“It is part of my play and I like to look for openings. When I score it obviously gives me more confidence.
“We are looking forward to the Sevilla game. We are working hard to be ready for the game and to start the season the best way.”