In an interview with the Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo today, Gerard Piqué talks about the team’s defensive solidity, the changes under Tata Martino why he makes Leo Messi the favourite for the Ballon D’Or again.
There was plenty of speculation in the media at the start of the season about the need for Barça to strengthen at centre half , but with Mascherano and Piqué forming one dependable pairing at the back and Puyol and Bartra another, Piqué reckons: “defensively we’re playing really well. We aren’t conceding goals, but people don’t seem to notice that – last season we let in a few and people jumped on that and said we needed a new centre half, but we’ve shown that whoever plays, we have done the job and we have great stats in defence. Some people were calling for a new centre back to be signed, but Marc has shown he matches what we needed – it’s not a matter of whether I like the formula or not – the fact is that it works!”
Despite the team’s great start to the campaign, there has been some criticism of a perceived change in Barça’s style of play, but Piqué believes: “I’ve given this a lot of thought and to begin with I was angry at the comments, considering the great results we were getting, but the thing is that here we are taught here that to win and play well is more important than just winning, that’s what the fans want and what we are trying to do – we have to give the new coach time. Football changes and we can’t always score after 30 passes – the other teams start to find you out”. The Catalan centre half also dismissed talk of betraying the Club’s trademark style: “we are playing like before, but if we have space, we play quicker – a long ball isn’t a betrayal, it’s a solution”.
We are playing like before, but if we have space, we play quicker – a long ball isn’t a betrayal, it’s a solution
Piqué also made it clear who is his favourite for for this season’s Ballon D’Oro: “I’m a big fan of Leo – also as a Barça fan he’s given us so much – he’s won it four times already, you should never rule him out, and I’m not saying that Cristiano hasn’t had a great year, nor that Ribery shouldn’t be discounted, but Leo…….. well, we’ll just see who gets the most votes, whoever it is they will deserve it and that’s all there is to it”
Finally, Piqué, who has been suffering with a groin strain, revealed that he was taking advantage of the international break to get back to full fitness: “this kind of injury needs rest and since it’s still at an early stage, I should be back to 100% over the next few days”.