Barcelona's dull display leaves Gerard in a Pique

BARCELONA • Gerard Pique gave a scathing assessment of Barcelona's display after the champions were held to a 1-1 draw by Real Sociedad on Sunday, casting doubt on his team's ability to retain the La Liga title unless their displays improve.

A brilliant strike by Barca talisman Lionel Messi promptly cancelled out Willian Jose's opener in the second half at Anoeta but defender Pique said his team were fortunate to leave San Sebastian, where they have not won since 2007, with a point.

Barca slipped a further two points behind Real Madrid following last week's goal-less draw with Malaga and are now six behind their arch-rivals before Saturday's Clasico at the Nou Camp.

"It's not often I can say this as a Barca player but we have to be pleased with the draw. Sometimes you can win a game while losing your style of play but when you don't have the right attitude, it's more worrying," Pique told Movistar Plus.

Real Sociedad striker Juanmi had a goal wrongly ruled out for offside which would have made it 2-1 to the home side, while Carlos Vela hit the post late on with Esteban Granero also missing a glorious chance to win the game.

"Almost nothing went right for us," said Pique. "They outdid us in the quality of their play and in attitude. We barely existed in the first half and improved a bit in the second but it's difficult to win the league playing like this."

Pique picked up a knock to his ankle in the first half but continued to play and said he would be fit to face Real. The Spain international, often a staunch defender of his club while criticising the La Liga leaders, also rated Zinedine Zidane's side as better than Barca at the moment.

He said: "We're playing against a great team, the best in the league and that's why they are where they are now. It's a vital game and I know the fans will respond."

Barca coach Luis Enrique admitted it was the worst display he had seen since taking charge of the club in 2014.

"This is the first time I've seen a team walk all over us since I became coach but it's excessive to say the league is lost after Week 13," he said. "We have to start to improve. This is the worst game of our time here but I'm sure we'll see a different Barca in the Clasico."

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 29, 2016, with the headline 'Barcelona's dull display leaves Gerard in a Pique'. Print Edition | Subscribe