Pique strikes late to keep Barcelona unbeaten

Sheri Evans
February 5, 2018

Just over 6km walk from the famous Nou Camp, home to 24-time La Liga winners Barcelona, sits the RCDE Stadium, Espanyol's 40,500-seater arena that is only a bit smaller than Chelsea's Stamford Bridge and Juventus' Allianz Stadium. "I know it hurt them and I used sarcasm to annoy them".

"Some of the fans here have been directing insults at me and my family for a long while".

Barcelona last lost in Liga back in April, but the fact that they were defeated in Cornella recently will ensure that they won't be underestimating Espanyol heading into this grudge match.

"They complain about that and report me, but they don't investigate insults towards my family".

"That doesn't mean anything to me right now, but it's a good statistic", Valverde said. "That is disrespectful. The least I could do was bring silence to the Espanyol fans".

Asked if despite being provoked he should still be more responsible, Pique added: "Players do have a responsibility, but we are also people and we react according to what happens. And if those in charge [at Espanyol] don't say anything, then we will not be kept quiet".

But from Messi's free-kick deep on the left wing, Pique scored to take Barca past the 21-game unbeaten run set by Pep Guardiola's side in 2009-10. Real Sociedad hold the record at 32 games from the 1979-80 season.

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And Iniesta suggested Pique's celebration, which contributed to ugly scenes in the closing stages of a game played in sodden conditions, was par for the course in a passionate encounter.

"We have had better performances but this draw is good considering the size of the opponent".

Ernesto Valverde's men have otherwise proved to be exceptionally resilient, so it was perhaps unsurprising they were able to turn around the tie. "These games are special and you also play a little bit with the heart as well".

However, despite the rather damp, in every sense of the word, opening 45, the second started in flamboyant fashion, as with just 45 seconds on the clock Espanyol had the ball in the back of the net.

"It's an important point".

"We give a lot of value to this draw, because it was hard to get because of this scenario, and because it's a derby and we didn't want to lose".

Other reports by TheSundaySentinel

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