Report: It was an interesting season, to say the least, for Gerard Piqué. In his past three seasons in Barcelona we've become used to him being very consistent, consistently good that is. This season was different. Piqué struggled throughout with both injuries and inconsistency. At times he looked lost on the pitch, not knowing who he was supposed to cover.
It could be said the Piqué was the player that suffered the most with injuries to fellow defenders. There was a stretch at the beginning of the season where it appeared Piqué had a different defensive partner every game and that definitely didn't help his confidence. And with questions raised about his off-field actions as well as alleged argument between Pep Guardiola and him it only exacerbated his problems on the pitch.
Add all that together and it results in Piqué appearing in by far the fewest games in his Blaugrana career. He also scored the fewest goals in a full season in his career.
However, toward the end of the season Piqué showed a remarkable rise in form. But just as he was showing flashes of brilliance he was struck by a hamstring injury that sidelined him for about two weeks which slowed his progress. As soon as he returned to the pitch he again showed improvements but this time Victor Valdes decided to give his teammate a concussion. Concussion are terrible but somehow when Piqué returned from his it appeared as if it actually help him as after he returned to the pitch he looked better than he did all season. Of course that was not the case, the timing just made it look that way.
The improvement was most noticeable in the just completed EURO 2012 when he and Real Madrid's Sergio Ramos formed an almost impenetrable defensive pairing allowing only one goal in the entire tournament. Many questions were raised before the competition began about how the two will work together but while they had some growing pains both performed magnificently and especially for Piqué that is a very positive sign before the upcoming season.
SamCooper's View: Piqué has had an out-of-sorts season. Criticism of his off-field life affected his performance on the field and led Guardiola to play midfielder turn defender Javier Mascherano in the number three's place. While there is no denying, this wasn't Piqué's best season I believe we did catch glimpses of the Spaniard's imperious best. There seem to be a breaking point in Pique's season, as there was on the door of his Audi but that's a different story, and slowly consistency began to reappear.
Euro 2012 was very impressive, Ramos and Piqué performed majestically and maintained Spain's clean sheet record in knockout games since 2006. Earning their place in the UEFA Team of the Tournament, along with new Barça signing Jordi Alba. My expectations of next season: With a defence that is likely to be four out of five parts Spanish, I fully expect Piqué to have the best season of his career.
Moment of the season: Despite Piqué's below par season he still had quite a few moments worth mentioning. There was some very good defensive plays, a pair of goals and a very confidently taken penalty in the EURO 2012 Semi-Final game against Portugal. My pick is the opening goal, and the eventual game winner, against Real Zaragoza when he eluded his marker and headed the ball past the helpless Roberto.
FC Barcelona vs. Real Zaragoza 1-0 - Piqué Goal - 19/11/2011 LIGA BBVA (via FCBRMAGoals)
|Started on the bench||13|
|Shots on goal||7
Record with Gerard Piqué in the starting lineup: 22-8-2
2012/13 Outlook: Gerard Piqué, when in form, is arguably Barcelona's best defender and that should not change next season. If Carles Puyol is fit and ready at the beginning of the season it could be the tipping point at the start as he has a big influence on his teammate and he is able to steer Piqué in the right direction. People often forget Piqué is only 25 years old, an age when defenders are still learning their trade, and if this is Piqué still learning how to do his job we can only be excited what he will bring to the table in 2-3 years.
Next Up: Dani Alves