The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPORTS -

BARCELONA de­fender Ger­ard Pique in­sisted the ab­sence of Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez was no ex­cuse for the Span­ish cham­pi­ons drop­ping two vi­tal points in a 0-0 draw with nine-man Malaga yes­ter­day. Messi was ruled out just hours be­fore kick­off due to ill­ness, whilst the sus­pended Suarez looked on rue­fully from the stands as an in­sipid Barca failed to find a way past Malaga’s de­fen­sive wall and the in­spired Car­los Ka­meni in goal. “The ab­sences are not an ex­cuse, we are Barca, we have play­ers worth a lot of money. We all have to per­form,” Pique told re­porters. “Some­times the ball doesn’t want to go in, but there is noth­ing we can do but keep go­ing.” Barca boss Luis En­rique claimed he could only praise his side for a dis­play in which they were “in­fin­itely bet­ter” than the dogged vis­i­tors. “We are one of the teams most used to play­ing against op­po­nents that put a lot of men be­hind the ball,” said a vis­i­bly frus­trated En­rique. “But that doesn’t mean that we will al­ways over­come it. We didn’t get the re­ward we de­served.” En­rique played down the im­por­tance of Messi’s ill­ness, mean­ing the five-time World Player of the Year is likely to re­turn along with Suarez for Barca’s Cham­pi­ons League trip to Celtic on Wednesday. “For him to miss a game he has to be very un­well be­cause nor­mally it is very dif­fi­cult for that to hap­pen,” added En­rique. “It is noth­ing se­ri­ous. It is some­thing log­i­cal and nor­mal at this time of year and he is al­ready re­cov­er­ing.”

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