Report: After a disappointing 2012-13 season Gerard Pique had a very solid bounce-back year. If only he could've stayed healthy over the later part of the season it could've been a great year for Pique.
He started the year in good form, playing strong football defensively. Consistently he was in the perfect position to make the necessary play, saving Victor Valdes a couple trips to the back of the net. But regardless of the aforementioned consistency Pique continuously irritated coaches and fans alike when in certain games he didn't appear to bring the necessary energy and drive to be a successful player at this level. It appeared like he became complacent against "lesser" opponents.
But boy did Pique show up for the big games. I'm talking about matches against the top two Madrid clubs and in the Champions League. He was making plays left, right and middle and he even got involved on offense, scoring two goals in just over 700 minutes in the Champions League.
But despite all the positives Pique displayed on the pitch, he too, like many Barcelona players this season, struggled to stay healthy throughout the year. He picked up a nagging hamstring injury in late October that limited his action over the coming month, six weeks as he rarely appeared in consecutive games.
As the season progressed Pique appeared to finally put that ailment behind him, though Gerardo Martino still occasionally kept Pique out of squad completely as a precaution. That was especially noticeable in the Copa del Rey where Pique made only two appearances, both in the Semi-Final.
But when Barcelona needed him the most, in the last two months of the season, Pique was forced to watch from the sidelines. Disaster struck on 1 April in the first leg of the Champions League Quarter-Final against Atletico Madrid when early in the game Pique landed awkwardly in a jump with Diego Costa, injuring his hip in the process.
The Barcelona center-back worked tirelessly to return to the pitch before the end of the season and he managed just that, recovering in time for the title decider against Atletico. But even with his boost Barcelona were unable to retain the title.
All those injuries also hurt Pique on the international stage as he made just a single appearance for La Furia Roja over the last 12 months, and even in that one he only featured for one half.
Moment of the season: Pique impressed in several games this season, but in my opinion his best game came in the Champions League Group Stage match against Celtic. Pique was a beast defensively where he won nine out of ten air duels and saved a goal with a clearance off the line. And that was just one of fourteen clearances he made over the 90 minute match. The center-back also made an impact on the other side of the pitch as he scored the opening goal of the game.
FC Barcelona vs Celtic 6-1 All Goals & Highlights 11/12/13 HD (via gaye turabi)
|Started on the Bench
|Shots on Goal
Record with Gerard Pique in the starting lineup: 26-8-5
2014-15 Outlook: Pique will look to build on the just completed season with an even better campaign, solidifying himself as the best central defender on the team. Pique will have to step up though with the emergence of Marc Bartra and the rumored addition of at least one center back. With a new contract signed just a few weeks ago expectations for Pique to perform at an elite level are high and regardless of any new signing he will have to meet them if Barcelona are to win any trophy.
Next Up: Marc Bartra