'Neymar doesn't dive - players hit him'

Former Real Madrid striker Predrag Mijatovic believes the Barca star is a target and described the Clasico as "the most beautiful thing" in football
Barcelona attacker Neymar has no choice but to go to ground due to the number of fouls committed by opposition defenders, according to former Real Madrid forward and sporting director Predrag Mijatovic.

The Brazilian has been accused of diving on a handful of occasions since his €57 million move to Camp Nou this summer - most notably when Celtic's Scott Brown kicked out at him in the Champions League clash in Glasgow - but Mijatovic believes the 21-year-old is a target for tough-tackling players due to his beguiling ability.

"Neymar gets hit a lot," the Montenegrin told TV programme La Graderia de la Ser. "They hit him and they make mistakes, because he's a great footballer. He carries the ball well when one-on-one and the only way to stop him is to foul him.

"Perhaps because of his physique and all the quality he has, people often have the feeling he dives. But he doesn't dive, they pull him down."

Looking ahead to Saturday's Clasico at Camp Nou, Mijatovic believes there is little to choose between Barca and Real Madrid on paper, but described the meeting as "the most beautiful thing you can see" in modern football.

"The Clasico is the best game there is. Nowadays, in world football, there is no more interesting game than Madrid-Barcelona. It's the most beautiful thing you can see," said the former Madrid director of football.

"In footballing terms, neither team has a clear advantage. Looking at the two squads, they're both good, with players of high quality. In these games you cannot make plans to go and draw, you have to go out to win."

Saturday's clash marks the Clasico debut for coaches Gerardo Martino and Carlo Ancelotti, and Mijatovic believes both men must be given time in their respective roles regardless of the result in Catalunya this weekend.

"Both Martino and Ancelotti have practically just arrived. They need a little time and trust in them," he added.