Barcelona need to rediscover the defensively solidity that has underpinned their championship charge alongside their sharp attack after an error by Gerard Pique...
Barcelona need to rediscover the defensively 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 quarter-finals 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.