Barcelona had Lionel Messi’s penalty to thank for their win over Real Valladolid at the weekend, but did Gerard Pique prove himself more vital to the club than the Argentine?
Ernesto Valverde’s side have struggled of late, being held by Athletic Bilbao last weekend to see the gap between themselves and chaser Real and Atletico Madrid get smaller.
With all eyes on Lyon in the Champions League next week, Valverde opted to leave Luis Suarez, Clement Lenglet and Philippe Coutimho on the bench and that allowed Kevin-Prince Boateng a start.
Being largely frustrated during the 90 minutes by the former Valladolid keeper Jordi Masip and a resilient back-line, Barca relied heavily on Messi’s spot kick to win them a vital three points.
And, whilst the plaudits were on the shoulders of Barca’s number 10 once more – others have looked to Pique as the reason behind their recent successes.
Pique proved instrumental for Barca during the game, winning the penalty after a familiar run forward from centre back, whilst he was key to a number of last ditch tackles and clearances, which could have seen Valladolid net at the Camp Nou.
In total, Pique has played every single minute (2160) of the league campaign this term, the only player to do so for Barca.
In those games, the former Spanish international has been excellent, making 1.3 tackles and 3.9 clearances per game.
The 32-year-old is not getting any younger, but their is an argument he is getting better and more intelligent in his decision making, receiving just one yellow card in his last ten games.
Messi has 22 goals in 22 games in La Liga and yes, he is Barca’s main asset but with all the concern what will happen when he is no more – maybe, the same should now be directed towards Pique.