Report: Looking to rebound from a season in which he performed bellow expectations, Gerard Pique surprisingly began the season on the bench. He was featured in the starting lineup the very next game, but he didn't look very confident, even alongside Carles Puyol. But gradually it appeared that Pique's form was improving.
However, in September came the Champions League game against Spartak Moscow. Pique started the match, but was forced off the pitch after twelve minutes. The initial diagnosis was that the thigh injury will force him to miss two to three weeks, but the recovery time was in the end closer to seven weeks.
The injury forced Pique to miss nine games, but after he returned to the pitch he looked like a much better player. He was playing with confidence which made him tougher to play against. During that strong stretch Pique's defensive partners were Puyol and Javier Mascherano, but when Pique is on his game it doesn't really matter who he's partnered with.
However, Pique's form began slipping toward the end of January, beginning with the game against Real Sociedad at the Anoeta stadium when Pique was sent off. It was like he completely lost his confidence, and even though he continued to play mostly with the previously mentioned duo of Puyol and Mascherano the performances weren't the same. Even the air game, where Pique is usually very strong, suffered as he often came out on the losing end of a duel.
Though this poor stretch lasted for nearly three months it was not all bad for Pique during this time. There were games in between when he was completely impenetrable, like in the Champions League game against AC Milan, which Barça won 4-0. Pique made seven clearances, two interceptions and a tackle to lead the team to a clean sheet in what was a masterful performance.
After circumstances forced him to be leader of the defensive line with either Adriano Correia or Marc Bartra, Pique stepped up again and played the last month of the season as a commanding center back. Pique followed that up with a good Confederations Cup campaign, though, it could've ended better for him as he picked up a straight red in the Final. In all Pique made 19 appearances for the Spanish National Team over the last year. A regular member of the starting XI Pique was part of the team that won the European Championship in 2012.
Moment of the season: There were quite a few games this season where the Pique of old returned, and made us wonder why can't he play like this all the time. League games against RCD Mallorca and Getafe, and the Champions League second leg against AC Milan come to mind. But the best of them, in my opinion, came on 1 December when Barça hosted Athletic Bilbao. Pique made several excellent defensive plays and he also managed to get on the scoreboard in the 22nd minute.
|Started on the Bench
|Shots on Goal
|BB Community Rating*||6.58
*BB Community Rating represents the average rating (out of 10) Barca Blaugranes community members gave to the player for his performances throughout the season
Record with Gerard Pique in the starting lineup: 28-6-7
2013-14 Outlook: Baring an injury Pique will begin the upcoming season at one of the center-back positions, but who his defensive partner will be remains to be seen. Pique could use some consistency in that department, because the constant rotation causes Pique adaptation problems, especially when you consider the difference in Mascherano's, Puyol's, Adriano's and Bartra's playing style. A regular partner just might be the only thing keeping Pique from returning to excellent form.
Next Up: Dani Alves