Barca not Piqued by er­ror

Lesotho Times - - Sport -

BARCELONA — Barcelona need to re­dis­cover the de­fen­sive so­lid­ity that has un­der­pinned their cham­pi­onship charge along­side their sharp attack af­ter an er­ror by Ger­ard Pique in the drawn match against Sevilla re­duced their lead to two points at the top of La Liga.

Pique has looked as­sured and led from the back over re­cent months as the de­fence has pro­vided the foun­da­tions for Barca’s as­sault on three tro­phies this sea­son.

The at­tack­ing tri­dent of Lionel Messi, Ney­mar and Luis Suarez may cap­ture the head­lines but Barca’s rear­guard have looked more com­posed and cut out the ba­sic mis­takes that led to their strug­gle ear­lier in the sea­son and put coach Luis Enrique’s po­si­tion un­der threat.

The turn­around has been most no­tice­able for Pique who was dropped for be­low-par per­for­mances and a lack of pro­fes­sion­al­ism. He has been look­ing more like the de­fen­sive stal­wart that along with Car­les Puyol gave the de­fen­sive se­cu­rity dur­ing Barca’s golden era with Pep Guardi­ola at the helm.

Am­ply sup­ported by ei­ther Jeremy Mathieu and Javier Mascher­ano the de­fence played their part as Barca over­took Real Madrid at the top of La Liga, swept into the quar­ter­fi­nals of the Cham­pi­ons League and reached the fi­nal of the King’s Cup.

How­ever, against Sevilla on Satur­day, fac­ing a spir­ited attack they once again made mis­takes and in par­tic­u­lar an er­ror by Pique on the half­way line led to a break­away and the late equaliser for the An­dalu­sians who drew 2-2. Luis Enrique was an­gry at the way they sur­ren­dered a two-goal lead but re­fused to sin­gle out any play­ers.

“When we con­cede I don’t like it, how­ever it comes,” Luis Enrique told a news con­fer­ence. “If it is due to a mis­take then it is the same.” Mid­fielder Ser­gio Bus­quets also backed Pique.

“It wasn’t his mis­take but that of the team. It is not a case of blam­ing any­body,” he said.

“It is dis­ap­point­ing to draw hav­ing been ahead but we are still lead­ers and on the right path.”

Sevilla coach Unai Emery said be­fore the game that this Barca side was the most sim­i­lar he had seen to that of Pep Guardi­ola’s but they are still a long way from con­trol­ling the game as well as the team that won three La Liga ti­tles and two Cham­pi­ons Leagues be­tween 2008 and 2012.

Mean­while, Cris­tiano Ron­aldo con­tin­ued his hot streak with the open­ing goal as sec­ond-placed Real won while An­toine Griez­mann came to the res­cue of Atletico Madrid, who are third, with his sec­ond of the game af­ter 78 min­utes earn­ing the cham­pi­ons a 2-2 draw at Malaga.

Ron­aldo struck a free kick from dis­tance and the ball moved de­cep­tively in the air to catch out keeper Xa­bier Irureta and put Real 1-0 up af­ter 21 min­utes at the Bern­abeu.

The World Player of the Year’s form dropped af­ter Christ­mas, co­in­cid­ing with Real los­ing top spot, but he has now bounced back with eight goals from four games.real were miss­ing sev­eral regular starters against Eibar, who posed lit­tle threat, and Javier Her­nan­dez nod­ded home the sec­ond af­ter 31 min­utes.

Jese Ro­driguez com­pleted the scor­ing from the edge of the area seven min­utes from the end.barca now have 75 points, two more than Real with seven games to go, while Atletico are on 66.

“It was a good re­sult for us par­tic­u­larly with the play­ers miss­ing,” said Real full back Al­varo Ar­be­loa.

“We played with those who haven’t had that many min­utes so far this sea­son but they re­sponded well and it showed the strength that we have in the squad.” — Reuters Fix­tures April 17 Es­panyol

April 18 v

v

v v

Va­len­cia CF

Atletico de Ma-

Malaga Getafe

April 19 v Alme­ria v Sevilla v Cor­doba Celta de Vigo

April 20 Real So­ciedad

Ger­ard Pique

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