Barcelona manager Luis Enrique has hailed the Celtic Park atmosphere as one of the "nicest" in the European football even though Neymar was booed by some home fans during his side 2-0 victory over the Hoops on Wednesday night (23 November). Meanwhile, the boss explained that he replaced both Gerard Pique and Jordi Alba in the second part of the game as a precaution, playing down fears of any setbacks in their recent injuries ahead of the La Liga trip to Real Sociedad.
Luis Enrique also replaced Neymar with 13 minutes to go after the Brazilian star was booked following a rift with Celtic right-back Mikael Lustig, prompting jeers of the home fans as he walked towards the bench.
However, the Barcelona boss said in his press conference, as quoted by AS: "I think it's something that happened in the final 10 or five minutes of the game. The fans were exceptional. I think it's one of the nicest atmospheres you can see in European football. Neymar has played well. I took him off to give him a rest because he is one of the players that have rested the less through the season. Not because he was at risk (to pick up a second yellow card)."
Pique and Alba's late substitution by debutant Marlon Santos and Lucas Digne were also questioned amid fears the two defenders could have suffered any setback ahead of the crucial coming trip to Real Sociedad, where Barcelona are yet to win a game since 2007. Yet, both Spanish internationals only returned to action in the weekend's goalless draw with Malaga following a month on the sidelines, with Pique missing the following training session on Monday due to a knock.
However, the Barcelona boss played down the fears of the fans as he expected to have both fully fit to visit Real Sociedad.
"We replaced Pique because after he was stamped on (against Malaga) and – after a recent sprain – he took a blow on the calf in the first half," the Barcelona boss explained. "I was not thinking about Real Sociedad [on Sunday] but I was thinking about not overloading Pique and Alba with minutes, given both have come back from injuries. We have done it but not thinking in the next game but in the long-term."
The victory, courtesy of another brace from Lionel Messi, saw the Catalans securing the top spot in the Champions League group C ahead of Manchester City, with one game remaining.
"I congratulate the team for qualifying. To do that with a game in hand in one of the toughest groups in the competition is something to be commended," the Barcelona boss added. "The game followed the pattern we had planned for. My players were attentive in all areas and were clinical over the last few metres, where Messi was as good as he always is."