Often criticised by his very own fanbase, FC Barcelona defender Gerard Pique finally received recognition for his impressive January form, as he was named to the European Sports Media Team of the Month. With five votes from the 13 member publications, Pique received the third-highest number of votes amongst the defensive nominees -- and it isn't difficult to see why. Aside from leading the Barcelona defense to an impressive clean sheet at the Vicente Calderon, Pique scored a couple of goals, including the all-important equalising goal in a 1-1 draw against Levante UD.
Those five votes take Pique's tally to 14 for the season -- that's the third-most most of any defender, behind Bayern Munich full-back David Alaba and Roma centre-half, Mehdi Benatia. Unfortunately, no other Barcelona players made the team for last month, but there was strong La Liga representation in the form of Thibaut Courtois, Pepe, Marcelo, Arda Turan and 2013 FIFA Ballon d'Or winner, Cristiano Ronaldo.
FC Barcelona's UEFA Champions League opponents, Manchester City also saw a couple of their players recognised for their good form, as Yaya Toure and Alvaro Negredo both made the XI.
January 2014: ESM Team of the Month (number of votes):
Thibaut Courtois (4); Marcelo (6), Pepe (6), Mehdi Benatia (4), Gerard Pique (5); Arda Turan (4), Yaya Toure (6), Arturo Vidal (7); Luis Suarez (8), Alvaro Negredo (5), Cristiano Ronaldo (7)
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